Fort Worth council to finalize budget Tuesday; cuts could impact Human Rights Commission

The Fort Worth City Council will hold its regular weekly council meeting tomorrow — Tuesday, Sept. 21 — and a final vote of the fiscal year 2010-2011 budget is on the agenda.

The council meets at 7 p.m., at the budget hearing part of the session is No. 13 on what looks like a pretty lengthy agenda. You can go here to see the entire agenda.

Like most other cities — and counties, and states, and the federal government — Fort Worth’s income from property taxes has dipped considerably, thanks to the significant drop in property values that occurred when the real estate market bubble burst. And that has left the City Council struggling to find a way to maintain services without having an huge increase in fees or the tax rate.

Back in August, Fairness Fort Worth posted this notice, explaining that one of the possible budget fixes the council was considering was to “eliminate the Community Relations Department as we know it.” That possibility left the Fort Worth Human Rights Commission with “grave concerns” over the possibility that, although the city has ordinances protecting its LGBT citizens and other minorities from discrimination, the commission’s ability to enforce the ordinance and investigate complaints would be compromised, since the Community Relations Department was the city department that provided support for that purpose.

I’ve gotten no word yet on whether the Community Relations Department is still on the chopping block, but you can go here to read the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s article today on what’s happening with the budget.

If you can’t get down to Fort Worth City Hall to watch the proceedings in person, you can keep up with what happens by watching the council meeting streamed live on the Internet here.

—  admin

Annise Parker has high approval rating despite bad economy and not being a media whore

David Taffet will have a full interview with Houston Mayor Annise Parker — who was in Dallas on Sunday for Pride — in this coming Friday’s Dallas Voice.

But for now, we point you to this story from KHOU Channel 11 about a recent poll showing that a solid majority of Houstonians approve of Parker’s job performance thus far.

Parker became the first openly gay person elected mayor of a major U.S. city last year.

In the poll conducted by Rice University, 14 percent rated Parker’s job performance excellent, 42 percent rated it good, 27 percent rated it fair, and only 6 percent rated it poor, with the remainder (11 percent) undecided.

The story notes that Parker’s approval rating is slightly lower than former Mayor Bill White’s was at the same point in his tenure. But it suggests that this is due to the bad economy and the fact that Parker doesn’t seek out media attention.

“What was interesting was how many people couldn’t rate her,” said professor Bob Stein, 11 News’ political analyst. “But in fairness, this is not the kind of mayor that looks for the press coverage and publicity that Mayor (Bill) White did.”

Parker tells KHOU that while she has no regrets about the job, the most difficult thing thus far has been visiting a fallen Houston police officer’s family in the hospital.

Again, for a full interview with Parker, see Friday’s Voice.

—  John Wright

Video: Iowa For [Partisan Fervor Based on Personal Whims Rather than Constitutional Fairness]

The seven justices of the Iowa Supreme Court, after years of education and training which provided the sort of legal expertise that qualified each member for his or her esteemed position on the state’s high court, listened to arguments and then wrote a unanimous decision that removed gender discrimination from the state’s marriage laws. But don’t listen to them or actually see the reasoning of the ruling even if you personally don’t like it. No, no — instead, listen to the following six attendees at the state GOP’s Ronald Reagan Dinner who the Sandra Day O’Connor-misrepresenting group “Iowa For Mob Rule” “Iowa For Freedom” found to speak out against the “run amok” “oligarchy” that is one of our three co-equal branches of government:





An independent judiciary controlled by citizens’ partisan talking points? [::sigh::] Come back to us, civics — all is forgiven!

***

**Oh, and for a continuing glimpse into just how partisan and far-reaching this “Iowa For Freedom” group really is, check out this other Reagan Dinner void that they uploaded along with the above six clips. It has nothing to do with their one supposed cause, instead featuring far-right congressman Steve King talking all about “Obamacare”:




Good As You

—  John Wright

#VVS10: Pence-ively pausing basic fairness

Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN unless UR-OUT) has given basically the same Values Voters Summit speech for the past few years. But this year he’s much more defiant, especially when it comes to how (non-)issues like marriage equality and fair, open service somehow destroy our country, economy, and general welfare:

Mike Pence [AFA]

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Good As You

—  John Wright

Fighting for Fairness in Bowling Green

This past week I met with One Bowling Green campaign manager Kim Welter, who is heading up the effort to defend two non-discrimination ordinances passed by Bowling Green city councilors in 2009. The ordinances amended the city’s existing anti-discrimination laws to protect individuals from arbitrary discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and veterans status in housing, public accommodations, employment, and public education. With no state law in Ohio against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, city ordinances are important bulwarks against discrimination in the workplace.

After these ordinances passed the city council (by votes of 7-0 and 6-1), opponents of basic fairness launched a successful recall petition that placed both ordinances on the November 2, 2010 ballot for a public referendum. Bowling Green is known as a progressive college town, but there are still opponents of equality working hard to misinform voters about the true intent and impact of the anti-discrimination ordinances.

That is why a broad coalition of residents has formed One Bowling Green, a campaign to educate voters about the importance of protecting the non-discrimination ordinances. In a city of only 30,000 residents, speaking with voters personally about these ordinances will be critical to success in November. Of course, speaking with voters one-on-one requires time and resources.

The repercussions of losing our hard-won equality are too many to consider. Having job and housing protections stripped from us will be devastating.  Contact One Bowling Green and join the fight for fairness now.

Paid for by the Human Rights Campaign, Joe Solmonese, President, 1640 Rhode Island Ave. NW, Washington DC, 20036


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  John Wright

Fairness Fort Worth forges ahead

David Mack Henderson

Fairness Fort Worth began as a reaction to the Rainbow Lounge raid but has evolved into an ongoing organization working for local equality.

David Mack Henderson, one the the group’s organizers, sent word that at their Aug. 26 meeting, they will reveal their new logo.

In addition, they’re rolling out a membership campaign with incentives for charter membership. The group should gain visibility in the upcoming weeks, participating in the Dallas and Fort Worth parades and with a booth at the Fort Worth picnic.

At the meeting, they’ll provide an update on some of the things they’ve been working on:

** Update on city of Fort Worth policy directives and domestic partner benefits

** New outreach to FWISD on Anti-Bullying Project

** Local hospital LGBT policies

The general meeting is Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall at Celebration Community Church, 908 Pennsylvania Ave., Fort Worth, 76104. Everyone is welcome.

—  David Taffet