Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Fifty point eight percent (and ten)

Against token opposition, Parker barely avoided a runoff. With all votes counted, the incumbent mayor garnered 50.8 percent of the vote over five underfunded and little-known challengers despite spending more than $2.3 million. Her predecessor, Bill White, won 86 percent of the vote in his last race for mayor in 2007.

Parker actually received fewer than 50 percent of the votes cast on Election Day but she rolled up greater tallies in early voting and absentee ballots cast.

A little humility might go a long way for the Mayor as she continues to "fix things" in her second term.

In her first term, Mayor Annise Parker consolidated departments, laid off city workers, raised fees, negotiated labor contracts with all three city employee unions, undertook historic designation of several neighborhoods over the opposition of those rallying around property rights, redrew the city’s political map, pushed for the addition of two Council seats and implemented two controversial voter-approved propositions to turn off the city’s red-light cameras and start charging a monthly drainage fee.

Upon winning a second term Tuesday, she said the work isn’t done.

“I’m going to continue to tackle every tough problem that I can find and fix things,” Parker told the Chronicle at her Election Night headquarters at Union Station.

If she can get some workers hired to begin projects funded by the drainage fee -- which had an "Against" slate in yesterday's races that was miserably defeated -- then she will do better in '13.

But this news last night is an inauspicious beginning: while Parker partied, seven Occupy Houston participants were arrested (three more were detained and then released) for refusing to move a tarp.

At approximately 11:00 PM, HPD arrested 10 Occupy Houston participants as a result of a dispute over a tarp being used to protect equipment belonging to Occupy Houston from inclement weather.

Police confronted one of the Occupy Houston participants about the placement of a tarp in Tranquility Park and requested its removal. The participant refused to remove the tarp on the grounds that it was necessary to protect equipment vital to the participants’ well-being. The participant discussed the matter with officers over a period of approximately 20 minutes, during which time HPD presence at the occupation site escalated dramatically, reaching a total of 27 officers and 19 police cruisers.

After failing to reach a resolution, police insisted that an arrest would be made if the tarp were not removed. The aforementioned participant remained steadfast in his position and 5 additional Occupy Houston participants indicated their willingness to be arrested on these terms as well. HPD then proceeded to arrest the participants and confiscate the tarp and other equipment belonging to the occupiers.

Four additional Occupy Houston participants were detained during the course of the arrests. Three individuals who were filming the event were detained for jaywalking after attempting to cross Walker St. at Bagby, where a police cruiser was obstructing the crosswalk. Another participant was arrested while requesting the name and badge number of one of the arresting officers. Three of the detained persons were released after a period of time, while the remaining 7 participants were booked into the municipal jail facility located on Lubbock. Video of the arrests may be viewed at Occupy Houston’s YouTube channel.

This confrontation occurred about two hours after Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee addressed the general assembly. An Iraq War veteran, Shaun Crump, was among those arrested.

Not a good way to start, Mayor Parker.

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