Tag Archives: Jenifer Rene Pool

Kubosh Holds Town Hall on NDO

As Houston City Council prepares to vote on a comprehensive Non- Discrimination Ordinance, the focus of the political debate has turned swiftly to Council Members themselves, as everyone postulates to determine how they plan to vote.  But some Council Members are taking this time as an opportunity to hear directly from Houstonians on the issue.

In something of a surprising move, Michael Kubosh whom represents the entire city of Houston as an At-Large Council Member, held a Town Hall to specifically to discuss the ordinance.  The meeting was organized by political activist and business owner Jenifer Rene Pool.  As some will recall, Pool ran against Kubosh in 2013 for his current council seat, At-Large Position 3, but since the election, the two have spoken numerous times about the non-discrimination issue.  Pool served as the moderator for the event.

One of those speakers was Monica Roberts, award-winning transgender activist and author of the Transgriot blog.  She shared her personal story of being fired from her former employer because she is transgender.  She also made an important point about how the lack of these protections could be lessening Houston’s competitive edge…

“Of the 10 largest cities in the United States, this city is one of two that does not have an ordinance to protect all of its citizens.  Those others are cities that Houston competes with to get corporations and high-profile business deals.”  said Roberts.

Mike Craig, the operations and planning director for  Out and Equal Houston, made some related points in his comments…

“The city of Houston is in direct competition with cities all across the country for people to come here and work.  The next generation of young workers… they expect that there is not going to be workplace discrimination.  I want those people to know that they are welcome in Houston.”

Some also took the opportunity to question the Council Member about his past statements on equality.  When he was running for office, Kubosh indicated on several questionnaires that he would not support a “San- Antonio style ordinance” that extended equality protections to citizens regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.  His reply to the questions was direct, saying that since the campaign, he has gotten to know more people affected by these issues and has a better understanding of them from personal level.

Former Council Member Jolanda “Jo” Jones also attended, and shared her insight on why the ordinance should be passed…

“It is important for the city to get on the right side of the Human Rights fight.  To me, this is not a GLBT issue, it is a Human Rights issue.”

Throughout the Town Hall, citizens shared their stories, and worked hard to combat some of the “myths” that have overtaken the right-wing discussions in the equality debate.  I did not ask the Council Member’s thoughts directly following the meeting, but the fact that it was even held is an indication of progress.  Kubosh listened very intently to his constituents, and showed concern for their issues.

The next setting for this debate takes place on Wednesday, April 30th at City Hall, for a Quality of Life Committee meeting.  It’s expected to have a large crowd, so if you plan to attend, get there early.

JRP Kubosh





‘Engaging’ Houston City Council in the Equality Debate

In the wake of both sweeping national changes and historic movement in another Texas city, many eyes are now turning to Houston, and wondering when we will follow suit with a comprehensive non-discrimination ordinance. But this debate has been very active in the Bayou City for a while. In fact, Texas Leftist asked Houston Mayor Annise Parker directly about her reluctance to move such a measure back in April. Here’s a reminder of that exchange…

Texas Leftist: During your administration, you’ve tackled some of our city’s toughest issues… Chapter 42, city pensions, etc. and as a result have made tremendous progress. But why has so little been done regarding the LGBT community? With the exception of city government and some other select businesses you can still be fired for being LGBT because we do not have a non-discrimination ordinance for general employment. This lags behind other Texas cities such as Dallas, Austin, and Ft. Worth. When will you work to pass city-wide non-discrimination laws for our city? And even if it weren’t to pass council, isn’t the conversation worth having for the sake of all Houstonians?

Mayor Annise Parker: The conversation is worth having and as an openly lesbian politician, it is clearly not an issue I’m afraid to tackle, but see the answer above. I am unwilling to bring an issue forward when I know there aren’t sufficient votes to pass it. A non-discrimination ordinance would be important, but I am more interested in seeing discrimination removed from our city charter.

The city is prohibited by charter from offering domestic partner benefits or from recognizing the domestic relationships of our gay and lesbian employees. It would require a vote of the citizens to undo. I hope Council will join me in placing it on the ballot at the appropriate time.

Of course, that was then, and thanks to San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro and some very brave city council members, this is now. When asked yesterday if a comprehensive non-discrimination ordinance is something Houston should do, this was the Mayor’s response, directly from Mike Morris of the Houston Chronicle…

“It is absolutely something we should do, and the majority of council members have publicly stated they are in support of a nondiscrimination ordinance,” said Parker, the first openly gay mayor of a major American city. “But this is an issue that requires all of council to be engaged and agree it is time to move it forward. When it happens, we will do that.”

So the Mayor confirms what many in the city have suspected… the majority of Houston City Council is probably in support of a comprehensive non-discrimination ordinance. But no one knows for sure because the council members themselves have not been put on record for their stance on equality.

Thankfully though, the day has come. If you haven’t checked out Off the Kuff’s 2013 election page and listened to his interview series, I highly recommend it as an essential voter resource. So far this year, he has asked every candidate for City Council whether or not they support domestic partner benefits for same-sex couples, and as it turns out, the responses are mostly in favor from the data he’s collected at this point. The question is out there, and unlike past years, Houston City Council will have to answer.

Of course he’s asking only about domestic partner benefits, and not about a comprehensive non-discrimination ordinance. Which is why I included it in the very first Texas Leftist Candidate Questionnaire (TLCQ), currently being distributed (via email) to all Houston municipal candidates. If Mayor Parker thinks that “all of council” should be engaged in the subject for political action to occur, then it’s time to help make that happen.

And if you’re wondering where the Mayor’s top challenger Ben Hall stands on LGBT equality, you’re going to have to keep doing so, as he has refused entirely to give an opinion on the issue. Hopefully Mr. Hall knows that whoever stands to be the next Mayor of the City of Houston will not have the luxury of ignoring monumental shifts in the fight for LGBT rights. And if he wants any credible chance of winning this year’s election, he won’t be able to ignore for much longer.

Texpatriate and Brains and Eggs have more.

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.

Houston City Council Approves Safe Passing Ordinance

For several decades now, Houston, Texas has been seen as a city whose streets are ruled exclusively by the automobile. One visit to the city lets you know that most cars drive the streets as fast as possible with little regard to anyone else that may be using the street. Because of this, Houston streets are very dangerous for cyclists, pedestrians, disabled citizens or anyone else who need to use them.

But today, the Houston City Council took a critical step to change our auto-only mentality. By a unanimous vote, Council approved Houston’s Safe Passing Ordinance. Effective immediately, non-commercial drivers in Houston must maintain at least 3 feet of space between them and all “vulnerable users”… cyclists, pedestrians, disabled citizens, equestrians, and anyone else using the road outside of an automobile. For larger trucks and commercial vehicles, they have to maintain 6 feet of separation.

From the City’s Official Press Release

“As a city, we need to protect everyone and anyone who uses our roads,” said Mayor Annise Parker. “This ordinance will make our city even more attractive to those who want to enjoy traveling in forms other than by car.”

In addition to requiring safe passing and trailing distances from vulnerable road users, this ordinance prohibits any motor vehicle occupant from throwing or projecting any object or substance at or against them.

“BikeHouston is pleased to see this ordinance pass and proud of the Mayor’s continued efforts on helping Houston become a more bicycle-friendly city,” says Kathryn Baumeister, Chair of BikeHouston. “Houston is a city of cars, but also has a big population of people who rely on cycling for transportation and recreation. We feel it is important for cyclists and drivers of automobiles to respect one another on the road. This ordinance will help provide a measure of safety for the vulnerable road users.”

Jenifer Rene Pool, a candidate for Houston City Council and major advocate for the improvement Houston’s infrastructure, also had this comment via Twitter…

“I’m pleased to see that City Council has taken initiative to protect cyclists and joggers on the streets of Houston. Good work.”

Good work indeed, and some would say it was long overdue. Houston was the “last hold-out”, but now all of the major cities in Texas have Safe Passage laws in effect. As more motorists are educated about the new law, it will definitely stand to make our streets safer, but there is still much work to be done on the streets themselves. With so many of the city’s roads in poor condition, it’s still difficult to make them truly safe for all. Hopefully the next steps will be to repair the roads and work on Complete Streets initiatives, but in itself, Safe Passage is welcomed news for Houston.

Off the Kuff has some background on this issue.

Share the road Houston… It’s the law now.