Early voting in runoff election off to slow start

For those who missed it, there is an election happening in Houston right now. Four City Council races wound up in run-offs after the November 8 municipal elections and Houstonians have until December 10 to decide the fate of these crucial races.  So far fewer than 2,000 people have voted. Without a “big ticket” item like the mayor’s race at the top of the ballot turnout in the runoff is expected to be very low. The upshot of which is that every ballot cast carries more weight than ever.

Two of the races are at-large seats, so every citizen of Houston gets to vote on this races:

  • In At-large position 2 former State Representative Kristi Thibaut faces Andrew C. Burks Jr. Pastor of Bailey Chapel Christian Methodist Episcopal Church.
  • In At-large position 5 incumbent council member Jolanda Jones faces Jack Christie, former State Board of Education member .

Two of the races are for district seats, so only people who live in those districts get to vote on these races:

  • In District A incumbent council member Brenda Stardig faces republican activist Helena Brown.
  • In District B local restauranteur and education advocate Jerry Davis faces Alvin Byrd, current staffer for council member Jarvis Johnson.

Early voting continues through December 6th, election day is November 8. Voters may cast their ballot at any early voting location. Visit harrisvotes.org to find your election day polling location (it may be different than your November polling place) and to view a sample ballot.

—  admin

Defining Homes • Ask the EXPERTS

With the economy still in a wicked mess, reports are that the latest trend in homebuying is not buying. Renters are on the rise. But are they? Real estate source Inman reported in January that it is cheaper to buy in the majority of the country’s larger cities. Keith Jurow reported last year on World Property Channel that a Harris Interactive survey found renting a better option. So which is it? We asked locals in the industry how the trends are swaying the Dallas housing market and the frustrations behind them.

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Michael Litzinger

Michael Litzinger
William Davis Realty Uptown

The trend has affected my business significantly. The firm I recently moved to seems to be more in tune with today’s market. Their streamlined, online process requires less paperwork which makes it better for the client, a much quicker turn around for me and better for the environment.

Leasing does move property these days, and I am just glad the industry moves in some fashion whether it’s leasing or selling.

I do think the trend has affected us locally somewhat, but not nearly as severely as in most other areas. I still feel good about the Dallas market.  I know Realtors in other areas that can’t say the same.

Buyers are decreasing to some degree. Even with low interest rates, I’ve had a lot of buyers come to me and then disappear.

 

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Derrick Dawson

Derrick Dawson
Texas Pride Realty

As an active and producing Realtor also working in property management, I’d say the rental trend has picked up significantly, but that doesn’t mean it’s been ideal for property renters/owners or for the multi-family industry. The rental market has been stable but faces some challenges based on broken leases due to financial hardship or unemployment. Many are playing it safe by downsizing or combining rental homes based on economic conditions, being fearful of keeping their jobs and saving for the future.
Today is a buyer’s market and an ideal time to get out of the rent race. The downfall to the buyer’s market that I have seen personally is buyers and investors taking advantage of desperate people in today’s markets, possibly causing detriment to individuals or families in their time of need but also bringing down values in those areas making it harder for others to sell.

 

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Dan Flynn

 

Dan Flynn
Dave Perry-Miller InTown

The trend of leasing over buying has changed the way I preview properties in my area. Leasing is so hot now, I’ve looked at rentals and try to know the different apartment communities close by. Now I am much faster to respond to leasing needs.

I process far more leases to build my future list of clients. I try to educate and prepare them for the buying process down the road. Using a Realtor to find the perfect place to lease makes a lot of sense for those wanting to buy in the future but also for those who don’t really want to do the legwork.

I recently represented a seller who could not sell his property for the amount he was hoping for. Finding qualified buyers in his market and price range wasn’t easy. Another Realtor’s client was interested in leasing the property so

I had to have that conversation with my seller. The seller decided to go with the lease. While sales are still going strong, leasing has increased. While this really is the time to buy, I think all the media attention scares buyers. Potential buyers need to know that the market is stable here and we are one of the cities leading the nation in sales right now.  Go buy a house now or pay more for it later both in price and interest rates.

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Keith M. Thomas

Keith M. Thomas
1111 Apartment Locators

Although the economy has definitely affected us here, it is worse in other areas of the country. Dallas continues to grow and so I feel the trend’s impact on Dallas has been positive.

My company is a fully licensed real estate brokerage company and we handle all residential and commercial real estate transactions yet, our primary business is apartment locating. We want to maintain focus on renters, but we’ve created strategic partnerships with other real estate companies and have a referral program with them. We work closely with our clients to help with all of their real estate needs.

For homes that have reasonable mortgages there is good news. In Dallas, the rental market has significantly gone up, especially from 2010 to present to a  94-97 percent occupancy rate.

Buyers become renters for two reasons: First, they are able to get a nicer home for a lower monthly payment. And second, it doesn’t make sense to buy unless you’re planning to stay. However, buyers are increasing, oddly enough. MetroTex Association of Realtors reported that last August 2010 there were 1,223 properties sold and this August 2011 there were 1,485.

It’s a landlords’ market. Rents are at a premium and good ones go fast. When I show my clients rentals, they want to think about it, I encourage them to act quickly, because the unit is gone within a day or two. Why should homeowners take a loss on waiting for a qualified buyer, when they can rent quickly and hold out for the market to improve?

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 7, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Anti-Gay Singer Buju Banton Wins Reggae Grammy, Faces Drug and Gun Trial Today

Anti-gay 'murder music' singer Buju Banton won a Grammy award last night:

Bujubanton "Banton won the prestigious award for Best Reggae Album for his project, Before The Dawn. This was his first Grammy award, having been nominated in previous years for Rasta Got Soul in 2009; Too Bad in 2007; Friends For Life, 2004; and Inna Heights, 1999. "He is elated, man," one member of Banton's entourage told the Observer. The announcement of the Reggae Grammy was made hours before the Grammy Awards show in Los Angeles, California last night."

The controversy surrounding Banton stems primarily from a song called "Boom Boom Bye" in which he sings about shooting gay men in the head, pouring acid on them and burning them alive.

Banton's drug trial resumes this morning in Tampa. He faces up to 20 years if convicted:

Just last week, Judge Jim Moody ruled against a motion by Buju’s legal team seeking to dismiss a superseding indictment. As a result of the ruling by Moody, who will preside over the trial, Buju will now be facing four counts instead of the two for which he was originally tried last September.

The five-time Grammynominated artiste, whose real name is Mark Myrie, had originally been tried on charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, and aiding and abetting the possession of a firearm during a drug-trafficking offence.

He will now be tried for conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine; attempted possession with the intent to distribute cocaine; possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drugtrafficking offence; and using the wires to facilitate a drugtrafficking offence.

The Miami Herald reports that Banton has gays in mind when he references his troubles:

In Jamaica, some fans have theorized Banton was framed by the U.S. government or gay activists who have protested violent, homophobic lyrics from early in Banton's career as a brash dancehall singer. Shows in several U.S. cities were canceled on his 2009 tour because of the protests.

Banton jabbed at his detractors during his Jan. 16 performance in Miami, referencing one of his controversial songs and the messiah of his Rastafarian faith.

He said: "Why they want to see Buju Banton cry? Is it because I said 'Boom Bye Bye'? Is it because I say Selassie I? Is it because I'm black and not shy?"


Towleroad News #gay

—  David Taffet

It’s not too late to be one of the Faces of LIfe

Ryan Baldwin at ilume sends along word that the project benefiting AIDS Arms Inc. is conducting another round of photo shoots today and Saturday at the ilume Gallerie. If you’re interested in being part of the project, stop by the Gallerie or call Ron Radwanski at 214-57-7369. The cost is a $50 donation for individuals or $75 for couples or families.

—  John Wright

If You Want To Drink At This Gay Couple’s Bar, Do Not Spit In Their Faces

Jason Gascoigne will serve four weeks in jail for spitting in the faces of and screaming slurs at a gay couple, who each received a dose of his saliva on separate occasions. David Remmer and Andrew Riley, who run a pub in Worcestershire, were spat upon at another bar during different encounters with Gascoigne. The first time, Gascoigne spat in Remmer's face after Remmer told him their bar would maintain a lifetime ban on Gascoigne; Gascoigne told a court he only spat in the "general direction" of Remmer. The second time, Riley was again at the second bar, when he confronted Gascoigne, who then proceeded to shout slurs at Riley and hoc a loogie between his eyes. In addition to a brief jail stint, the court banned Gascoigne from both bars for two years.


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Serbian Hate Leader Mladen Obradovic Faces Charges Over Belgrade’s Violent Gay Pride Parade

Mladen Obradovic, the fanatical Serbian bigot who leads the the "ultranationalist" group Obraz, will face charges of inciting violence during Belgrade's Oct. 10 gay pride parade, where more than 150 people — mostly police, but also revelers and spectators — were injured. Obradovic and two other Obraz members, who led an estimated 6,000 anti-gay protesters, were indicted just before Christmas and face 12-year prison sentences. Last year Obradovic successfully got Belgrade's pride parade canceled by intimidating organizers so much police said they could not guarantee The Gays' safety.

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Wendy Walsh: Seth’s mother says stop the bullying now

I have two sons. I like to say I inherited them when their mother and I began our relationship.

They make me crazy sometimes, like when I have to tell them 12 times to pick up their dirty socks off the floor, or not to leave their empty water bottles or candy wrappers on the couch.

They make me crazy sometimes. But I love them more than life — all the time. Even when they make me crazy.

In one week and one day, I will get to celebrate my 10th Christmas with my sons. I am willing to bet I am looking forward to Christmas morning as much as — maybe even more than — they are. The looks on their faces when they see the gifts from Santa, when they open those brightly-wrapped packages under the tree — that joy is worth all the crazy times. It’s worth the world.

In one week and one day I get to celebrate Christmas morning with my sons. Wendy Walsh will never have that chance again. Her son, Seth, was one of the several LGBT teens who committed suicide this fall after facing years of bullying. I can’t even begin to imagine what she must be feeling right now. I think I might just close myself off in my house and never want to see anyone else again.

But Wendy Walsh isn’t doing that. She is putting her grief and her pain and, yes, her anger to work, joining with the ACLU to call on all schools everywhere to protect all children from the kind of bullying and harassment that left her son feeling he had no way of escape except dying, and to call on the federal government to enact legislation to fight bullying.

And while the rest of us can never truly understand the depth of Wendy Walsh’s grief, her loss, we need to all understand that Seth Walsh was our son, too, that Wendy Walsh’s loss was our loss, and that her grief should be our grief. And we should all fight just as hard and she is to make sure that no other children, anywhere, ever feel such despair that suicide seems their only option.

If we don’t do something to save our children, who will?

—  admin

Teacher Admits Affair With Student, Faces Jail

LOUISE YEOMAN X390 (TELEGRAPH ROSS PARRY) | ADVOCATE.COMA 29-year-old female schoolteacher faces jail after admitting to having sexual relations a 15-year-old female student.
Advocate.com: Daily News

—  admin

Your last chance to take part in the ‘Faces of Life’ photo campaign

You know you want your supermodel moment

Face of LifeThe ilume Gallerie and photographer Jorge Rivas invite people to come get their photo taken as a benefit for AIDS Arms Inc. You saw the Faces of Life exhibit during the parade with rich, colorful pictures of local people in the community adorned by a red ribbon. That could be you! Only not as big and not in the parade. Nonetheless, it all goes to charity and you’ll have a heck of a Facebook profile pic.

DEETS: Through Nov. 5. Call 214-507-7369 for an appointment. $50 for singles, $75 for couples. ilumeGallerie.com.

—  Rich Lopez