City Revises Subpoenas, Removes Request For Sermons

Since the story caught wildfire and continues to ricochet across the internet, the City of Houston has decided to revise the HERO Subpoena request.  Here’s more from Mike Morris of the Houston Chronicle

Mayor Annise Parker on Friday followed through on her pledge to narrow the scope of subpoenas sent to local pastors who led opposition to the city’s equal rights ordinance earlier this year.

Though the subpoena’s new wording removes any mention of “sermons” — a reference that created a firestorm among Christian conservative groups and politicians, including Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, who accused Parker of trying “to silence the church” — the mayor acknowledged the new subpoenas do not explicitly preclude sermons from being produced.

“We don’t need to intrude on matters of faith to have equal rights in Houston, and it was never the intention of the city of Houston to intrude on any matters of faith or to get between a pastor and their parishioners,” Parker said. “We don’t want their sermons, we want the instructions on the petition process. That’s always what we wanted and, again, they knew that’s what we wanted because that’s the subject of the lawsuit.”

As readers know, the subpoenas became the quick subject of national news, rising up through the Conservative blogosphere, and landing major fodder for every media outlet from Fox News to Time magazine.  And yes of course, Texas Leftist was also reeled in hook, line and sinker.

Further into the press conference, Mayor Parker reveals to ABC 13 reporter Miya Shay that she doesn’t regret the city’s actions

Miya Shay: “Mayor do you think you would’ve bothered to change the language if not for all of the attention?”

Mayor Parker: No, we wouldn’t have.  They knew what we wanted. […] There was nothing inappropriate with their request, but it was worded in a way that allowed misinterpretation.  But no, we wouldn’t have weighed in if it hadn’t been brought to our attention.

Attorney Feldman also commented that the other side broke protocol in an effort to gain press attention.

Feldman:  In the normal discovery process… if the other side has a problem your discovery request, before you file a motion to quash, you are supposed to confer about the issue.  Had they done that in this case… they could have told us they had an issue with this request, and we would’ve agreed.  But they decided to make it a media circus.

From watching the press conference,  it seems pretty clear that the issue has caused a fair amount of stress for the Mayor’s office, due to the heinous amount of hate mail it has likely generated.  Parker was very direct with her responses, and probably just wants the saga to be over. In the end though, it is much better that the City revise and clarify the subpoenas so as not to mislead people assuming sinister intentions.

Firestorm aside, the most important aspect of these cases is yet to come.  The actual trial to determine if there will ever be a HERO referendum takes place in January.  Just remember that as was seen this week, the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance is still needed, and in fact laws like it need to be expanded to citizens across the state.  Kudos to the Mayor and the City Attorney on fulfilling a promise they made earlier in the week.  For the sake of all Houstonians, let’s try to move forward from this misstep.

Check out the press conference below…


TLCQ 2014: HD 132 Endorsement

With the recent construction of the Grand Parkway segment linking Katy and Cypress, the West Harris County area, apportioned as Texas House District 132, is a community destined for rapid growth and diversification. It is home to Katy ISD and Cypress-Fairbanks ISD… two of the largest school districts in the state, and both of which have been burdened by the massive, Republican-led 2011 education cuts, while bursting with more young minds to educate than ever before.  Residents in this area have traditionally favored Conservative leadership, but as the area grows, new populations and new challenges have created space for more political diversity as well.  What the area needs most is common-sense representation in Austin that can see multiple perspectives and work with them all, but still remain focused on the realities facing their constituents.

Presumed front-runner Mike Schofield is seasoned veteran of Texas Republican Party line politics.  On his campaign website, he professes that HD 132 “needs legislators that will put the needs of taxpayers first, and place principle above political gain.” But his actual record does not live true to these ideals.  Instead, he boasts about authoring the divisive Texas Voter ID law, and being a close adviser to Governor Perry… all indications that for Mr. Schofield, it’s politics that come first.

But the people of HD 132 have a better choice in this election… Democrat Luis Lopez.  Born in Mexico, Luis remembers well the struggles of working just to make ends meet, and knows that better government representation could make a huge difference in the lives Texans, especially those from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.  Despite his early struggles, Luis overcame them through good educational opportunities and hard work.  After graduating from Lamar University, he is now a father, accountant, small business owner and public servant.  He put himself through high school and college working construction jobs in the Beaumont area.

Amassing such a rich life experience, it’s no wonder that a young man in his mid-twenties feels such a call to service.  Mr. Lopez believes strongly that proper government investment and stewardship are critical to the future of HD 132.  In his own life, he saw clearly the value of a good education, and wants those same opportunities not only for his young daughter, but for all the students in the district. Lopez truly lives the future of Texas. Mike Schofield on the other hand, continues to champion missteps of the past.

It is time for a new direction in West Harris County… a direction pointed towards its future.  The pick for HD 132 is Luis Lopez.