Tag Archives: Houston feeding ordinance

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 However Mayor Parker is so withdrawn from the reality that she’s losing public interest in her political career and frankly, she does not care.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?

What to do now? Confronting Houston City Council

FNB Feeding Downtown Houston
Children eagerly wait to feed Houston’s homeless (Photo by Burnell McCray)

It’s that time again… time to start attending the weekly City Council meetings held each Tuesday at 2 p.m. 900 Bagby, 2nd Floor (Council Chambers) Houston, TX 77002. After turning in over 34,000 petitioned signatures requesting a reversal to the feeding ordinance passed last April, we are demanding that Mayor Parker & council act quickly in getting the ordinance on the November 2012 election ballot. Since the ordinance passed, as of July 1st it became illegal to feed more than 5-people on ANY property which includes public properties which we tax payers have and are paying for. In order to be allowed to feed, we must get special permission by Mayor Parker otherwise any given person who decides to feed more than 5-individuals can be fined $500 – $2,000 or even be arrested and jailed. Mayor Parker has been quick to blame the charity groups and several volunteers for misinforming the public. However when I openly asked Mayor Parker what she meant by misinforming the public, she never answered my inquiry. I also received feedback in that very same council meeting from Councilman Jerry Davis who serves District B (area surrounding Bush Int Airport) citing that he voted FOR the feeding ordinance due to community meetings held in his district where the public requested he vote as he did. When I personally requested evidence to back up his statement, he agreed to give me the proof I needed. An email was sent the following day to Councilman Davis’ office requesting feedback. To date, I have yet to receive a response from his office, not even an acknowledgement of my request. I feel it is important to hold members of council who fight so hard to be voted in office by us citizens they promise to represent, responsible for their voting methods. In this case, I would like to find out how Davis drew his conclusion on his vote. Did he fold by Mayor Parker who is known to strong arm members of council, did he adhere to special interest groups or is there a political career to be gained should he have sided with these corporations who stand to profit by this law? Council Woman Wanda Adams campaigned using the homeless issues as a way to gain voters by stating that she was going to tackle the issues and work to get the homeless properly cared for but if you were paying close attention in April, you would know Ms. Adams voted for the ordinance as well. A woman who prided herself in looking to help the homeless, holding that as a stepping ground for her campaign surely had no problem adding to the homeless issue. It is well known that Wanda Adams wants to continue her political career in the future. Could she have been bought by special interest groups in order to gain future campaign funding?

Politically corrupt antics will not work in the City of Houston as many volunteers from diverse groups via ethnic, gender, religious, political, sexual orientation, etc, have all come together to fight the city over this law. Houston Democrats are surely not satisfied with Parker. This is when Parker places blame on the individuals who have been vocal in the public. Mayor Parker has never been one who accepts blame for any wrong doing. Her arrogance is very real. Just attend a council meeting and disagree with her. This “my way or the highway” and victim role she plays is quite dramatic on her part and she fails to see that it is hurting her political career. She has even gone as far as to say several individuals have worked feverishly to have her taken out of office. She refuses to realize that it is by her own fault that her political career will crumble. In my opinion, anyone who goes as far as to attack the homeless then place blame on everyone rather than herself, does not deserve to represent Houston. Parker will be up for her 3rd term next year. The public has lashed out and openly revealed that she has lost their support. You would hope by now that Parker would take responsibility but even worse, now that she has the petition signatures, 34,000 voters, she bluntly told those in attendance last week at the council meeting that the ordinance will not make the November ballot. It only took volunteers a few weeks to count and validate the signatures. Why is Mayor Parker dragging her feet?

By now it is obvious that we’re up for a massive fight. Parker refuses to be defeated. The right thing to do should she truly care for the voters is to ensure the ordinance goes on the November ballot. Having over 2-months to do so could possibly save her political career. Unfortunately this would not please the special interest groups who would fund her campaign, as speculated. Activists and volunteers have vowed to attend weekly council meetings until the November election. Should Parker ignore the citizens a second time, then civil rights lawyers are preparing for a lawsuit against the city that would hopefully get an injunction against the feeding law.

All of this is well worth the fight of being able to feed those who want something as simple as a meal. You can help by attending the weekly council meetings. Even if you’re unable to attend each week, even attending and speaking up once is appreciated. This law is not a well supported by the public. Parker is aware of this but continues to ignore the 34,000 individuals who petitioned the law.

Along with the council meetings, there will also be a Community Charrette August 20 – 23rd. This meeting will take place at 9 a.m. in handling the homeless problems with Mayor Parker. The public is welcomed to join. The location is 6300 Irvington, Ste. 502 Houston, TX 77002. Meanwhile the homeless feedings have continued well after the law became effective July 1st and will continue to do so until this law is overturned. If you would like to get involved, please email freetofeed2012@gmail.com or feel free to attend council meetings and/or the Charrette.