Sheriff Lupe Valdez, a Democrat, on why she’s going to the Log Cabin Republicans Convention

Sheriff Lupe Valdez

The Log Cabin Republicans will hold their National Convention in Dallas this coming weekend, and we’ll have a full story in Friday’s print edition. But because the convention actually begins Thursday, we figured we’d go ahead and post the full program sent out by the group earlier this week.

Perhaps the biggest surprise on the program is a scheduled appearance by gay Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, who is of course a Democrat.

Valdez, who’ll be one of the featured speakers at a Saturday luncheon, contacted us this week to explain her decision to accept the invitation from Log Cabin (not that we necessarily felt it warranted an explanation). Here’s what she said: 

“We have more things in common than we have differences, but it seems like in politics we constantly dwell on our differences,” Valdez said. “If we continue to dwell on our differences, all we’re going to do is fight. If we try to work on our common issues, we’ll be able to accomplish some things.”

On that note, below is the full program. For more information or to register, go here.

—  John Wright

Larry Craig ‘making the rounds’ again in D.C.

Disgraced former Idaho Sen. Larry Craig, who resigned two years ago after he was caught cruising for gay sex in an airport bathroom, has returned to Washington as a lobbyist. The Huffington Post reports:

Those walking around the halls of Congress on Monday afternoon were treated to a peculiar sighting as Former Senator Larry Craig (R-Idaho), long ago disgraced in a bizarre airport bathroom scandal and two-years removed from office, rode the subway that runs beneath the Capitol.

[Craig] was, he said, “making the rounds” to see former Senate colleagues. From which CNN reported that the Idaho Republican was now a lobbyist, free to talk shop with Congress members after waiting through a cooling off period.

Craig’s firm, New West Strategies, wouldn’t actually confirm lobbying was now part of his portfolio. “I didn’t say that,” said Mike Ware, a principle at New West, adding, with emphasis, that “the cooling off period IS over.”

 

—  John Wright

LGBT group demands apology from FIFA

President of soccer’s governing body said gays attending World Cup in Qatar in 2022 should refrain from sex

STEVE DOUGLAS  |  AP Sports Writer

LONDON — A leading international gay rights group demanded an official apology from FIFA on Tuesday, Dec. 14 following Sepp Blatter’s comment about homosexual fans traveling to Qatar for the 2022 World Cup.

The president of the world soccer governing body said Monday that gay fans “should refrain from any sexual activities” during the World Cup in Qatar, where homosexual behavior is illegal.

Juris Lavrikovs, communications director for the European branch of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, said the comments were “very unfortunate and have left people deeply offended.”

“I think they should come out with a strong statement and not just wash it away,” Lavrikovs told The Associated Press. “We are talking about a very basic human right that is being violated.”

Blatter spoke in South Africa on Monday at the launch of a post-2010 World Cup legacy project. He was asked if he could foresee any cultural problems with the tournament being held in Qatar.

“I’d say they (gay fans) should refrain from any sexual activities,” he said, smiling.

“This is not a joke, this is a matter of life and death to people,” Lavrikovs said. “Qatar and more than 70 other countries in the world still criminalize individuals for homosexual relationships, and some countries even punish them by death sentence.

“It’s disappointing to see that an organization that is promoting the game, which in its statutes condemns discrimination of any kind, is coming out with comments like this.”

Qatar beat the United States, Australia, Japan and South Korea in the FIFA vote on Dec. 2 to host the 2022 World Cup.

Concerns have been raised that a country hosting a major tournament has stringent laws that are seen by many to violate basic human rights.

“Sepp Blatter jokes about the risk to gay visitors in 2022, but Qatar’s anti-gay policies are no laughing matter,” British human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said.

John Amaechi also condemned Blatter’s remarks. The former NBA player from Britain who revealed he was gay in 2007 said on his website that “FIFA has endorsed the marginalization of LGBT people around the world.”

Amaechi also demanded an apology from FIFA and urged other associations to distance themselves from Blatter’s comments.

“Anything less than a full reversal of his position is unacceptable,” he said.

Herman Ouseley, chairman of Kick It Out, a British campaign group for equality and inclusion in soccer, said he expected better from someone in Blatter’s position.

“It was all frivolity and laughter but it’s a serious business — people’s existence he has ridiculed,” Ouseley told the AP at the launch of his group’s annual review at the British Parliament.

“We can’t have that from the top of the world governing body — you’ve got to show leadership because you’ve got to influence the standards of behavior required and then you’ve got to enforce it when there’s a failure.”

—  John Wright

Young Stonewall wants to ‘Light Up Oak Lawn’

Political group seeks money from grants and other sources to fund lighting safety program for entertainment district

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

Brian Stout
Brian Stout

Dallas Stonewall Young Democrats this week unveiled their new effort to make Oak Lawn safer by improving lighting in the area.

DSYD announced the “Light Up the Night” campaign during a meet on Tuesday, Aug. 10 at JR.’s Bar & Grill, explaining that the group plans to raise money to add lighting to the neighborhood bounded by Oak Lawn, Maple, Wycliff and Lemmon avenues, according to DSYD Communications Director Michael Maldonado.

The Cedar Springs area is included in one of the Dallas Police Department’s 26 Target Action Area Grids. Last year that TAAG recorded the third-most violent crimes in the city.

Reported violent crimes in the area have decreased considerably this year.

Latisha McDaniel, who lives on Hall Street in Oak Lawn, was one of those attending the meeting. She said poor lighting is a real problem for residents.

“It’s scary to walk alone because it’s so poorly lit,” McDaniel said.

Several holdups in the neighborhood were mentioned, including an incident in which two people were robbed near the Seville apartments on Reagan Street, and another in which three people were held up in front of an apartment behind the CVS Pharmacy on Lemmon Avenue.

David Richardson, who owns Skivvies and has had other stores along Cedar Springs over the past for 30 years and was among the founders of the Cedar Springs Merchants Association, said he has seen “huge improvements” in Oak Lawn over the years.

He said safety has always been a concern and recalled when prostitutes were a common sight along Cedar Springs Road and drug dealers and hustlers hung out on the streets behind the bars. He attended the meeting and said he is delighted with DSYD’s efforts.

“I’m glad to see another group step up to help us,” he said.

DSYD President Pennington Ingley said the group looked at studies from around the United States and Great Britain that showed that crime decreased in neighborhoods when lighting improved.

One concern was that crime would simply move from the newly-well-lit streets to other nearby streets. But Ingley said that the studies showed that improved lighting in one area has a positive effect on neighboring areas as well.

Ingley said that despite police statistics that show a decrease in crime in the area this year, he hasn’t seen any improvement in the four years he has lived on Reagan Street.

“People walk in complete darkness on Reagan Street from the Seville to Cedar Springs,” he said.

He joked that there is a solution, which is why they named the project “Light Up Oak Lawn” rather than “Stop the Muggings.”

Vice President Brian Stout said that the board walked every street in the area to map every working streetlight.

“There’s no rhyme or reason to how they’re laid out,” Stout said.

DSYD Political Director Jennifer Allen said the group also studied what lights to purchase and how to fund the project.

“We need 200 to 350 more lights to have adequate lighting in the area,” she said.

She said they recommended low-sodium LED lighting that would cost $1,000 to $1,500 per unit. Fully funding the project could cost $.5 million.

Allen said there were cheaper alternatives to getting the streets lit sooner that used bulbs. But those bulbs would burn out sooner and use more electricity.

She added that DSYD are exploring several sources of funding including economic development grants, money from foundations, neighborhood developers and government grants. Members have spoken to Dallas City Councilwoman Angela Hunt about working with city grant writers to help obtain the money.

At the meeting, DSYD members acknowledged the city’s tight budget situation. While they expected the city to back the plan, they said did not expect the council to vote money to help pay for it.

Michael Milliken is active with the Oak Lawn Committee, which deals with zoning issues in the area. He extended an offer to work with DSYD, especially with helping them make contacts in City Hall.

DSYD Secretary Jared Pearce said that getting grants would take some time but that the group hopes the project can be completed within two years.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 13, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas