Tag Archives: Food Not Bombs Houston

Ask not what Houston City Council can do for you, but what you can do for them?

A woman receives a healthy meal by Houston’s Food Not Bombs who feeds those in need 4-times a week. (Photographer: Burnell McCray)

We have now entered over two-weeks since volunteers which include the local infamous Kubosh brothers, turned in over 34,000 petitioned signatures in effort to reverse the feeding ordinance passed earlier this year and became law as of July 1st. Since that point, some groups have dropped out from serving meals to the homeless. This means that other local charitable groups are picking up the slack and seeing an increase in the number of individuals fed. While doing this, these very same groups risk citation which the fine can vary from $500 – $2,000 or even be arrested if the person serving doesn’t comply with the law.

While attending these weekly council meetings held each Tuesday, 2:00 p.m. at City Hall, it has become apparent that Mayor Parker has no interest in what the public has to say. Time after time, Mayor Parker confuses her own words and the terms of the ordinance itself, nor has she given any real answers on how to obtain city permits or how long it would take to obtain these permits. The city itself doesn’t even have answers to the protocol for this law but they continue to arrogantly ignore our questions, ignoring petitioners, ignoring those of us who have relentlessly gone to council meetings each week in addressing our local leaders. It is very disheartening to see Mayor Parker writing her grocery list, laughing at comments being stated and whispering to council members to her right rather than to listen, look us in the eye and at least “act” like she carries some level of interest. However Mayor Parker is so withdrawn from the reality that she’s losing public interest in her political career and frankly, she does not care. The ice frozen over on her face is a clear indication that we are in for a hell of a fight.

Michael Kubosh advised council that their team was in receipt of additional petitioned signatures which were turned over to the City Secretary this week however she openly denied the additional signatures, refusing to deal with the Kubosh brothers. When the initial 34,000 signatures were handed over to the city secretary, one of her last statements was that they were here to serve the people but that no longer seems to be the case. In the least, they could have accepted the documents and the city legal team could dispose or count them however they choose. The city secretary chose to act as the legal team and deny voters the right to petition this law. Of course, Parker came forward with her usual excuses. Lying and exuse making seem to be her 2nd and 3rd passions in life.

In this same meeting, two gentlemen who have been recipients of the feeding addressed the council. The question was posed by Mr. Darnell, “How would you feel if the role was reversed? Why is it that you are doing this to us?” Council member Gonzalez quickly responded citing “food safety concerns” and saw to it that Mr. Darnell had a printed overview of what this law means. The city has yet to initiate any kind of research to prove that food safety is an issue. I have been very clear in prior articles how Food Not Bombs has always served healthy meals. To date not one person has come forward indicating any kind of illness due to inadequete food. I have also noted how several local shelters have served expired and uncooked food. It is no wonder why the choice is to eat meals that are hot, healthy but also served humanely. Many if not all the volunteers express the level of respect that is given by those who are hungry and those who are serving. There is no reason to dehumanize any individual because they are homeless. Having a home or a job does not make one person better than the other. There are several people who have jobs and homes however are monsters to society but are seen differently because they aren’t living on the streets. Society has conditioned us to think of homeless as dangerous, lazy, drunkened people who do not look to better their circumstances. Dangerous, lazy and drunkened people own homes as well. It is about time for the people to understand that we are all human and the only thing that truly separates us is the state of mind one carries.

We live in a country where Congress has an approval rating of 9%. People are not as trusting of leaders as once before. Local leaders are practicing the same behaviors: ignoring the people they represent & enabling special interest groups to run their way of voting. Council member Davis expressed two-weeks ago in the live and recorded council meeting that he had voted for the feeding ordinance because he followed the people he represented in District B which encompasses north Houston area. After not receiving responses to several inquiries made to his office requesting evidence that the people supported his vote, it was brought to my attention by several individuals who had been in attendence of these community meetings that either the ordinance was not brought up or if it had been, the voters were not in support of the law so this would prove that Jerry Davis while on record, openly lied about the very people he is supposed to serve and represent. Our leaders have been allowed feel inferior because what you don’t know, won’t hurt you. It is about time we hold the leaders responsible.

It is well known that Mayor Parker was not happy about the initial article I wrote via the Examiner which outlined the truth of the bill and facts behind the methods of those who voted for the ordinance and also naming examples of hypocrisy. Within a couple of weeks of the article, the Examiner nixed my writing credentials and expressed the reasons which later came out, that I was no longer allowed to write for them. Parker has taken some serious strides to keep this matter quiet. She isn’t favored upon with many local deocratic groups in Houston who have spoken out requesting the reversal of this bill. Mayor Parker continues forward, unaffected and basically does not care while finger pointing and blaming those of us who have overwhelming support of the voters in Houston by stating that we have not been telling the truth to the public of what this law is and what it means. Parker has even accused several of us in trying to impeech her from office. While it is my opinion that no person who could attack the homeless in this manner should not be in office, it is well known that my intentions along with the intentions of all others involved in this fight is that this bill is unconstitutional, they did make it criminal to feed over 5-people without permission from Mayor Parker and without that permission to feed on public space which we the tax payers own, these given volunteers who serve can be fined or arrested, just for giving a man, woman or child a meal.

We understand this fight over the ordinance is a redundant one, we cannot forget that food sharing with permission of the Empress herself is just plain wrong. The individuals who stand to make money from voting for the ordinance are the very same leaders who can be bought over and over again. At a time you bring something forward that you might be passionate about, ask yourself, can you really trust individuals who have received kick backs and monetary incentives to cater to special interest rather than serving you as the voter?

Efforts continue to stop the feeding ordinance as 34,000 petition signatures are personally turned over to Mayor Parker’s office

A press conference was held on August 13th in the City Hall lobby as Paul Kubosh, Nick Cooper and Randall Kallinen address the media over new information surfacing over Houston’s unpopular feeding ordinance. Several volunteers feverishly counted and verified all the petitions signed by Houston voters. The results: 34,000 signatures gained. The Kubosh brothers were known for fronting the red light camera petition and was able to get the signatures needed in order to get the voters to make the final decision as the law was placed on a ballot. Voters had decided to have the cameras turned off. The feeding ordinance is now the hot topic. While the July 1st deadline to turn in the petitions of at least 20,000 signatures came and went, unable to meet that deadline, the effort is far from over. A handful of volunteers personally walked the 34,000 signatures and delivered them to the City Secretary.

As the press conference was held, it was obvious that our local media was MIA. Coverage of the events unfolding has been minimal although each media outlet such as ABC 13, Fox 26, Channel 2 News, KHOU 11 among other more visiable medias were nowhere to be found although invited to attend the press conference. Coincidence? It has been rumored that Parker has recently had local major media pulled from covering this all too important issue. Paul Kubosh reminded the public that this feeding ordinance is a grassroots effort. Individuals of various political background have come together to overturn this law. This ordinance is not sitting well with Democratic voters, the very same party Parker is representing. To silence any media from making Mayor Parker appear as if she is not serving the citizens, has been a key effort in keeping voters on her side. The “what you don’t know, won’t hurt you” theory is the game. However there are a a few remaining journalist who haven’t been intimidated or strong armed by Mayor Parker’s recent antics. At this point of Mayor Parker’s career, it is imparative for voters to know just who they are dealing with as Parker is up for her 3rd term come November 2013. Should the city employ a mayor and council members who seemingly bully those who are destitute?

Meanwhile, the feedings continue multiple times a week. Unfortunately due to the ordinance, other charitable feeding groups have dropped out from public feedings due to intimidation, as Food Not Bombs Houston volunteer Nick Cooper, expresses to the public while adding that the lines have quadrupled in size at the FNB feedings because the other groups fear the hefty $500 – $2,000 or even arrest. This means that more homeless will go without meals on a day to day basis because prior to the law, these groups worked hand in hand.

How can you help? Call the city office at 832-393-1100 and ask to get on docket to address your Mayor and council members. A meeting is being held today at 2:00 p.m. at City Hall: 900 Bagby Houston, TX 77002.

Mayor Parker continues to ignore questions & discussions over the new feeding law

Top photo: Dozens of people are fed a healthy & hot meal outise city hall after Mayor Parker makes it illegal to feed the homeless.
Bottom photo: Kids help feed the homeless as they prove that it’s better to give rather than to take away.
(Photographer: Burnell McCray)

“Illegal Feeding” continues in spite of Mayor Parker’s unpopular feeding ordinance passage. Houston’s feeding ordinance was voted on April 4, 2012 and became law as of July 1, 2012. What does this law mean? The ordinance prevents charitable feeding for more than 5-people otherwise those individuals who feed Houston’s hungry can be given a ticket which holds a fine varing between $500 – $2,000 or even worse, can be arrested. When dealing with Houston’s police department, no one person can ever know which way this will go. Some Houston officers have come forward and stated that even if ordered, they have no intent on giving citations or arresting citizens for feeding a hungry group. One officer came forward however asked that I give him an alias to prevent any backlash so we will call him Brandon. I openly asked Brandon whether he would arrest anyone who participated in charitable feeding: “I am a God fearing man. I go to church each Sunday. I morally cannot worship God then turn around and arrest a citizen for feeding people who are hungry.” While we know HPD has been looked at negatively in recent years, it is safe to say that many officers are beginning to step forward and take career risks over this new law. Brandon continues, “I am prepared to deal with whatever comes my way if that time should come but know that I will not side with Mayor Parker on this law. It is ridiculous!”

On July 1, after the law became effective, the feeding continued at downtown Houston. The evening of the feeding, over 140-hungry people were served a hot and healthy meal. Food Not Bombs is a nationwide organization focused on feeding those in need of a good meal. Several major cities have recently passed food ordinances that would prevent groups like Food Not Bombs from feeding those in need. The media was conducting interviews however as these stories ran on the late night news, a quick clip of the feeding was shown but certainly didn’t offer any real insight to the public. We would later learn that the media had been asked to pull back by the Mayors office and not cover these gifts of charity or what we call being humanitarian which Mayor Parker lacks. The second Sunday of the considered “illegal feeding” FNB counted over 99-people in the beginning stages as the line continued to grow. When one comes to a homeless feeding, you immediately notice women, men and children quietly standing in line, hesitant to smile, the look of concern in their eyes that they don’t want to be looked down upon. The fear of where they will sleep for the night clearly weighs heavily on their minds. As these hot, healthy meals were served I saw eyes light up, worries turn into smiles, laughter amongst strangers and most of all, a level of comfort in that moment that is indescribable. FNB isn’t like the Houston homeless shelters who shove religion on these individuals while dehumanizing them and citing rules that make these shelters feel more like prison. FNB truly makes an effort to show compassion, love, sharing and the will to take risks of arrests or citations. “I don’t know how the Mayor can live with herself,” says one homeless man who calls himself Frank. He continues on to say, “I don’t trust our people (city leaders) because they don’t care if we eat or not. If it wasn’t for these people (FNB) then I would not have eaten today.”

America used to be a free country and once cared about their fellow man. However little by little, we are seeing our city and national leaders take away basic human needs. Mayor Parker arrogantly points the finger at the those who oppose the feeding ordinance by stating that we wrongly convince individuals of the law by changing it to our opinion rather than what it really is. Interstingly enough, several people have openly asked her blunt questions about the feeding and Mayor Parker does the typical political stance: dodging the question and turning the discussion off focus. I personally would like to know when the last time it was that Mayor Parker literally took time out of her schedule to sit down and converse with a homeless man? I can guarantee you that if Mayor Parker doesn’t have something to gain, she will refuse participation or acknowlegment. It was back in January when Mayor Parker finally decided to visit with Occupy Houston. Sporting her neon yellow heavy weight coat, she definitely caught the eyes of several occupiers. However only those members who “looked the part” were allowed to bypass her security team and personally speak with her. I was lucky enough to be groomed that morning but some of my co-occupiers were turned away because they were in tattered clothing, their hair was messy and were not what she would consider a normal looking citizen. After spending nights on end at Tranquility park in protest of corporate greed over human need, these men as highly intelligent as they are, were not allowed to speak to their local leader. One must begin to wonder who she truly serves?

We activist had all come up with solutions for each issue that Parker and Rodriguez presented to the people. It was poor excuse making on Parker’s part. First it was a food safety concern, next was the trash problem and lastly it was a trespassing issue. Mayor Parker flip flopped more than a fish out of water and refused to listen to the voters. What really counts for Mayor Parker? I think the answers come by those businesses and local shelters who were given the ability to speak at city council meetings while Parker had the opposing citizens and groups against the bill, shifted to last on the council agenda in airing our grievances. Ask Mayor Parker about these special interest groups and what each of them stands to gain by passing such a ridiculous law. Ask yourself why it is that Star of Hope shelter so strongly supports the bill. I’m sure the CEO making over $200k annually has a lot to lose if his shelter loses people who are the reasons why these places receive astronaumical donations from various energy companies, the Bush’s, not to mention the money they save by the food donations only to serve the homeless undercooked expired foods that an animal wouldn’t even eat. But here is Mayor Parker, attacking charity groups who give from the heart. Not giving because they stand to make their $3,000 a week paychecks. So when you hear Mayor Parker give the public some bleeding heart speech about how unfortunate it is that us being the 4th largest city in dealing with the homelessness and how she is trying to rectify the problem, just remember, actions speak louder than words. She is only worsening the situation by creating this law. Parker has worked feverishly to quiet the media including myself as I was “released” from the Examiner a few weeks ago where a special call was placed to the higher authorities that had my credentials ceased immediately. It is no secret that Parker assumed my last article that focused on the feeding ordinance was more an effort to have Parker impeeched from office. As honored as I was to hear such a thing, I also thought it was pathetic that Mayor Parker thinks of herself as so worthy to waste such energies on such a heartless human being as herself. Parker, Adams (who campaigned and assured the public of her will to focus on the homeless problem. Nice job Ms. Adams. Way to handle the issue) and Rodriguez have all signed their own political death certificates back in April 2012. When you pick on the helpless, when you bully the meek, what could one expect? It is unfortunate that even as this last weekend passed, Parker continued to refuse to openly answer and discuss the feeding law while she attended Whole Foods on Kirby where the public was invited to have their 3-minutes with the Mayor. Parker.

I refuse to allow our corrupted politicians skate by without openly holding each one accountable. Her itty bitty arrogant eyes and fake smile is not intimidating to those of us who will continue to fight the city head on concerning this bill. The politics as usual is not working anymore. While many of us, occupiers or not, cannot make it to D.C. to implement change, we can start locally and spead it out. For now all we can do is make the public aware any way we can since such great actions to silence the media has been taken. Guess what Parker: the people are watching, the people care and some of us have the resources and all the time in the world to make the public aware of your wron g doings. It is time to take responsibilty.