AIDS housing funding survives challenge in Houston city council

Helena Brown

The city funding for four Houston nonprofits providing housing to at-risk populations living with HIV/AIDS survived a challenge from city council member Helena Brown last Wednesday. Under consideration by the council were ordinances to dispense almost $2.5 million in federal funds managed by the city to the SRO Housing Corporation, Bering Omega Community Services, Catholic Charities and SEARCH Homeless services.

Brown initially used a parliamentary procedure known as a “tag” to delay the funding for the Houston SRO Housing Corporation and Bering Omega. Any council member may tag an item under consideration, delaying the vote on the item for one week. Brown explained that she objected to government funding of charitable entities:

“I spoke last week on this very issue on grant funds and the idea that we are, you know, fighting with other entities and other governments for grant funds that really isn’t there. The federal government is in a worse condition than the city of Houston and to continue to try to milk the system where there’s no milk, is just, I mean, we’re fighting with our brothers, as I said last week, to get credit for who is going to push a friend over the cliff… We need to continue to look at the private sector and the business sector. Because even, I attended this event where this wonderful speaker was talking about the generosity of Americans and 80% of donations to nonprofits come from private individuals, not even corporations, and we need to continue to rely on that right now because the government right now, we’re broke – we need to face that reality.”

Other council members spoke passionately of the need for continued funding, arguing that by assisting people living with HIV/AIDS in achieving independence, particularly those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness,  the programs added to the tax based and help insure long-term stability.

“We don’t live in a perfect a world,” said freshman council member Mike Laster (the first out gay man to serve on the Houston City Council). “These organizations do their very best to raise money to care for the people among us, but they still need to reach out to entities that have that kind of capital, and by the grace of God this city and this government as an entity has some of that capitol, and I’m very proud that we’re able to provide those kind of services to some of my community members.”

Council member Wanda Adams, who serves as chair of the council’s Housing and Community Development Committee, also spoke in favor of continuing funding. Council member Ellen Cohen, whose district contains both SRO Housing and Bering Omega, spoke of how her life had personally been touched by AIDS:

“One of the first young men to pass away in New York City was a cousin of mine of something [then] called a very rare form on pneumonia… which we now realize was not. So I understand the need for these kinds of services. On a personal note I worked with Bering and I know all the fine work that they do, I’m addressing all the items but I’m particularly addressing [the Bering Omega funding] and feel it’s absolutely critical that we provide the kind of funding items, and that we are, in fact, our brother’s and our sister’s keepers.

After Laster asked Mayor Annise Parker the procedure for overriding a tag Brown removed her tag, but raised a new concern about HIV/AIDS housing, saying that her office had requested a list of the owners of apartment units where those receiving rental assistance lived. City Attorney David Feldman explained to Brown that federal law prohibits making public information that could be used to identify people receiving assistance through the housing program. Feldman said that, in his legal opinion, revealing the names of the owners of the apartments would violate federal law. Brown said that she was concerned that their might be a “conflict of interest” with apartment owners that needed to be investigated, claiming that as the reason for her tag.

Brown eventually removed her tag, rather than have it overturned. All four ordinances providing funding passed with only Brown voting “nay.”

—  admin

‘I’m nothing you’ve heard’

TO: Campaign O’Donnell

FROM: Truthful Productions Inc.

Subject: The candidate’s first commercial spot

Hey team! So excited you asked me to take a shot at this project!

Attached you will find a draft of the ad copy I think would really work for Christine. Basically I took a look at her record and crafted a script from what jumped out at me, based on both how prominent Ms. O’Donnell’s past involvement, as well as the potential real world impact that certain words and actions could have on Delaware voters. I know Ms. O’Donnell would like to run on her actual record rather than against silly asides about being a witch, a mid-’90s MTV appearances, her views on self-gratification, or the comment about loving meat too much to be a Buddhist. So this seems to be more of what she wants!

(*Note: I’ve included links to archived information, lest the candidate forget)

CHRISTINE (to camera): “I’m not a witch. I am, however, someone whose old organization, The SALT, used to dedicate large swaths of resources to “changing” gay people through some sort of spell unbeknownst to all credible bodies of science.

I’m nothing you’ve heard — but I very well may be what you’ve seen recorded by unflinching cameras or read in the inarguable archives culled from the unforgiving annals of print media.

I’m you, if you also once invoked Adolph Hitler to suggest that progressives have redefined “gay” to mean joyful and gleeful, before then moving on to say that “when we say that Ellen [Degeneres] is gay, we’re certainly not talking about her emotional well-being.

None of us are perfect. Especially if you’re not heterosexual, which is why I tried to change people like Wade Richards.

But none of us can be happy with what we see all around us. Politicians who think spending, trading favors, and back room deals are the ways to stay in office. Scientists who think actual research about sexual orientation deserves precedence above junk science groups and personal faith convictions. Gay people who look into my very recent past and wonder why I led “Confronting False Sexual identities” seminars at conferences that also featured the soft soul stylings of one Jerry Falwell.

I’ll go to Washington and do what you’d do. And maybe I’ll again try to link a prominent gay person to child molestation, like I did back in the ’90s, when I led a D.C. press conference with the sole intent of stopping the United States’ first openly gay ambassador by peddling in far-right-crafted lies about his supposed ties to the “pedophile rights movement.”

I’m Christine O’Donnell and I approve this message.

I’m you. That is, if you too have a record that should make any LGBT person or straight ally to say, “wait a minute, hold up!”

It’s good, right? Can’t wait to hear your notes!!!


The Nonexistent Producer Who Exists in Jeremy’s Overactive Imagination


TO: Truthful Productions Inc.

FROM: Campaign O’Donnell

cc: Master Bates, Beetha Meet, Abra Cadabra, Bill Maher’s estranged cousin with the possibly good dirt on him, S. Palin

Subject: RE: The candidate’s first commercial spot

Not bad! However, we have decided to make a few edits. Hope you’ll agree that our changes are more politically viable:


I’m Christine O’Donnell, apparently, since her “I’m you” ad copy just implied that she is the embodiment of every United States citizen

Good As You

—  John Wright

Obama: ‘I’m A Christian By Choice’

6a00d8341c730253ef0134864f8847970c-800wi President Obama's opponents enjoy taking aim at his religion, and have worked overtime to paint him as Muslim, which to many conservatives is worse than practicing no faith at all.

Though the Commander-in-Chief has tried and tried to convince people he's Christian, his efforts often fall flat: almost 20% of voters still think he practices Islam. Perhaps the President's unscripted reply in Albuquerque, New Mexico, will quiet some of his religious critics.

"Why are you a Christian?" asked a woman today, leading Obama, who's traveling around four Republican-leaning states, to answer, “I’m a Christian by choice."

He went on to explain, "I came to my Christian faith later in life and it was because the precepts of Jesus Christ spoke to me in terms of the kind of life that I would want to lead. Being my brothers and sisters’ keeper, treating others as they would treat me, and I think also understanding that Jesus Christ dying for my sins spoke to the humility we all have to have as human beings."

Of course, skeptics and cynics will likely suggest the White House planted this woman there to ask that very question. Because, you know, the administration doesn't have anything else to worry about…

Read Obama's entire reply, AFTER THE JUMP.

I’m a Christian by choice. My family, frankly, they weren’t folks who went to church every week. My mother was one of the most spiritual people I knew but she didn’t raise me in the church, so I came to my Christian faith later in life and it was because the precepts of Jesus Christ spoke to me in terms of the kind of life that I would want to lead.

Being my brothers and sisters’ keeper, treating others as they would treat me, and I think also understanding that Jesus Christ dying for my sins spoke to the humility we all have to have as human beings, that we’re sinful and we’re flawed and we make mistakes and we achieve salvation through the grace of God.

But what we can do, as flawed as we are, is still see God in other people, and do our best to help them find their own grace. That’s what I strive to do, that’s what I pray to do every day.

Towleroad News #gay

—  John Wright