Mayor Annise Parker on Tuesday canceled a scheduled vote to regulate the feeding of homeless people in Houston following an outcry from people and groups that the proposed rules would criminalize simple acts of charity.
The rules had caused a fury from the moment they were introduced early this month. On Tuesday, the backlash continued as dozens of speakers criticized the regulations at City Council's public session. A coalition that included clergy, a tea party activist, a longtime property rights advocate, an immigrants rights leader and volunteers who feed the homeless held a news conference behind City Hall to criticize what they said were the rules' infringement on religious and personal liberties.
"To be told when and where and what time we can feed people goes directly against our creator. When the spirit moves us to go ahead and feed people, to check with the city first before we can go ahead and do that (is unacceptable). We're really opposed to this ordinance," said Manuel Sanchez, outreach director at Ecclesia Church in Montrose.
So there's a few Bible verses that address this: "I was hungry and you fed me", etc. I don't want to go all Godly about it though. I just want to note something that I have been considering for awhile about what motivates our mayor to take up all these conservative causes.
From my observation it appears Mayor Parker is imbued with that good old "pull-yourself-up-by-your-own-bootstraps" mentality. I perceive that she is one of those people who feels as if the fruits of her success are the direct result of her having worked hard for them (no luck, favoritism, or charity was ever involved) and correspondingly those whom she perceives as not working very hard, or hard enough, draw no sympathy from her.
This would explain why she 'nudged' those lazy, filthy Occupants out of Tranquility Park; it's why she would choose to aggressively over-regulate feeding homeless people much like Republicans have passed laws restricting voting because they think there's voting fraud.
In her public attempts to sell the changes to city ordinance, Parker had spoken of the need to protect the homeless against food-borne illness, but had no data to indicate it was a persistent problem. She emphasized that it would promote coordination of charities so that several groups would not converge at a park by chance and have to throw out food for lack of takers.
Just as Republicans would take the route of hyper-regulating women's reproductive choice out of legal existence, so Mayor Parker believes that if you make things harder to get, the people who need them will move along and look elsewhere for them.
It helps us understand why she would rather terminate the employment of park workers and garbage collectors -- and essentially refuse to fund the pensions of firemen -- than raise taxes to address the city's budget deficit.
It reminds me of the time in college when I first heard this band play this song.
Hard times in the land of plenty;
Some got it all and the rest
ain't got any.
The difference these days, of course, is that the "some" don't want "the rest" to have any. And they want to make certain they don't get any.
Really and truly, I am of the mind that Annise Parker is one of the best, most moderate Republican mayors this city could ever hope for.