Dave Wilson robo-calls Houstonians, warns of Annise Parker’s ‘alternative lifestyle’

Houston mayoral candidate Dave Wilson has stepped up his homophobic attacks against incumbent Mayor Annise Parker with a recent robo-call targeting Houston voters:

“Hello Houstonians, this is Dave Wilson, candidate for mayor. In 2009 I warned voters that Annise Parker would use her position to promote her alternative lifestyle, and she’s done that. Her very first executive order was to allow men dressed as women to use the women’s restroom. Her appointments have been based on sexual orientation, rather than ability. She appointed George Greanias, head of Metro, who was caught viewing porn sites such as rentaboy.com. Dave Wilson would have fired him on the spot. Join me in taking our city back, vote Dave Wilson, paid for by the Dave Wilson for Mayor.”

Wilson’s call contains several misleading, or outright false, claims, such as saying that Parker’s first executive order was to allow “men dressed as women to use the women’s restroom.” The first executive order Parker signed after being sworn in (E.O. #1-50), clarified the process for filing sexual harassment claims for city employees. The second (E.O #1-25) dealt with city operations during a natural disaster, the third (E.O. #1-42) with city credit cards, and the fourth (E.O. 1-14) with the city’s procurement procedure. The fifth and sixth executive orders signed by Parker (E.O. 1-8 and E.O. 1-20) dealt with discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity and expression and the use of hate language by City of Houston employees while on the job. Both order were signed on March 25, 2011, 2 months and 23 days after Parker took office. These are is the ones that chafe Wilson. Under order 1-20 access to public accommodations in city buildings, including restrooms, cannot be denied to any member of the public because they are LGBT. While Wilson fears “men in dresses” discretely handling their business in the stall next to his wife, he seems to miss that it also allows burly, bearded men who happened to have been assigned a female identity at birth to use the men’s room. One wonders if he’s ever thought about that.

Executive Order 1-20 is about basic courtesy and access to public facilities that most of us take for granted. No one should be put in the position of risking arrest for using a public restroom (which happened shortly after E.O. 1-20 went into effect), and it is humiliating to expect trans Houstonians to have to ask “which bathroom do you expect me to use” every time they’re in a city building.

The situation with George Greanias, CEO of Houston’s public transit system Metro, is far more complicated than Wilson describes it. To hear the robo-call you’d think Greanias was simply caught looking at pornography, a constitutionally protected right. The issue is that Greanias was caught looking at porn on Metro’s internet wi-fi, all be it accidentally. According to the Metro investigation Greanias accessed sites containing gay oriented adult material on 14 separate days between February 9, 2011 to July 1, 2011. The access was from Greanias’ personal computer and he believed through his personal internet access. In a letter to Metro employees he explained that “the violation was unintentional. I thought I was using my own computer, but was in fact in Metro’s system — but it was a violation all the same. The sites I accessed were of a sexual nature — to say the least, highly inappropriate, and embarrassing.”

Typically a violation of this nature by a Metro employee would have resulted in a verbal warning. Because of the high profile nature of Greanias’ job he received a much harsher punishment. According to Metro’s official statement “Chairman Gilbert Garcia has concluded that, as president and CEO, Mr. Greanias must be held to a higher standard, and decided instead of a warning Mr. Greanias would receive a more stringent punishment of one week suspension, without pay.”

None of that matters to Wilson. He “would have fired [Greanias] on the spot,” bypassing the review process guaranteed to all Metro employees and likely subjecting the city to a very expensive lawsuit. More than his overt homophobia, it’s Wilson’s blind ignorance of the procedural facts of running a city that should frighten Houstonians.

Early voting in Houston municipal elections (including mayor) continues through Nov. 3 at all early voting locations. Election day is Nov. 8. Early voting turnout continues to lag; votes cast during the first four days of voting have trailed the 2009 municipal election turnout by 21%.

—  admin

Trans candidate places 3rd in Amarillo mayoral race

Sandra Dunn

Dunn proud of her efforts, but says she won’t run again without more community support

JAMES BRIGHT | Contributing Writer
editor@dallasvoice.com

Transgender mayoral candidate Sandra Dunn placed third in Amarillo’s mayoral election May 14 in an 11-candidate field that included an anti-gay pastor. Dunn said voter turnout was a major concern in the election, with fewer than 15,000 votes cast, according to the Amarillo Globe-News.

Mayor-elect Paul Harpole won the election with 77 percent of the vote. Roy McDowell came in second with 13 percent and Dunn in third with 3 percent.

“It seems traditionally most people do not realize that local votes are critical,” she said. “People think they just need to vote nationally and that’s just not the case. There have been several cases in the past where an election has been decided by just one vote.”

Dunn is not disappointed about her placement though. “Third out of 11 is nothing to be ashamed about,” she said.

Even though she lost the election, Dunn said her third-place finish should give her some weight in the City Council.

She also said she would not run again unless a committee was formed for her election and she received support both socially and financially.

“I’m not trying to beat my own drum, but I did this one all by myself,” Dunn said. “I put out several feelers nationwide asking for help and I received zero support.”

Dunn also said her work in politics is far from over. She has already been talking to Amarillo’s city manager about job discrimination and the restroom issue: “I’m going to approach the city about getting some things added to certain policies to take in consideration issues that affect transgender people.”

According to Dunn, transgender people using public restrooms has become a major concern among the city’s straight population. She said the idea of transgender people using family restrooms appealed to both groups.

“A family restroom is a single stall room,” Dunn said. “You can go in lock the door and no one will bother you. It will help us as transgender individuals and help parents who have two or three kids on an outing.”

Dunn said her primary goal politically is to push for legislation that would prevent all discrimination in the work place.

Dunn’s military service also stood out in this election. Denny Meyer, media director for Transgender American Veteran’s Association, said although endorsing candidates can get a bit tricky the group supports all members of the LGBT community who run for public office.

“It’s almost a victory to celebrate that she came in third in that district,” Meyer said. “It’s a positive sign in that field and means independent voters by large went for her.”

Monica Helms, president of TAVA, said the organization takes a lot of pride in people like Dunn and their efforts to make progress in the world, both politically and professionally. “She [Dunn] represents some of the best of our community, and some of the best of our transgender veterans,” Helms said.

If Dunn were to run again, Helms said she would have the support of TAVA in the future.

Transgender people have frequently been thrown under the bus, according to Meyer.

“They were completely left out of ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,’” he said. “It did not even occur to them [legislators] when they wrote [the bill] that transgender people existed.”

But, he said, Dunn’s campaign shows a significant gain in changing that. “It’s not just gay people getting elected, but transgender people advancing as well,” Meyer said. “It’s the final frontier.”

For now Dunn said she will continue counseling transgender people, spending time with her family and working on her master’s degree in psychology.

—  John Wright

More on Ron Natinsky and Stonewall Democrats

Ron Natinsky

Mayoral candidate Ron Natinsky may have been eligible after all for an endorsement from Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, according to the group’s president.

As we reported over the weekend, Natinsky abruptly pulled out of Stonewall’s candidate screening on Saturday over questions about whether he was eligible for the group’s endorsement since he’s a Republican.

According to Stonewall’s bylaws, “Endorsements may be made in Dallas County non-partisan elections if the candidate has a Democratic Party primary election voting history and/or affirms allegiance to the Dallas Democratic Party.”

Stonewall President Omar Narvaez said Monday that it’s possible Natinsky would have been eligible for the endorsement despite the candidate’s Republican primary voting record. The group instead endorsed former police chief David Kunkle.

“Bylaws cannot be waived, but there’s a lot of gray in that bylaw, just depending on how it’s interpreted and how it’s read,” Narvaez said. “I can’t tell you how it would have gone had he [Natinsky] been there. All I can say is that Kunkle had a lot of supporters in the room already.

“It was sad that he [Natinsky] ended up dropping out at the last minute, because it was another opportunity to actually speak to us,” Narvaez added. “When a candidate’s there it really means a lot more to the members. When somebody just decides that they’re not going to come speak at all, it makes the membership feel almost slighted — ‘why wouldn’t you show up?’”

—  John Wright

Natinsky opts not to screen for Stonewall

As John Wright reported earlier here on Instant Tea, Dallas mayoral candidate Ron Natinsky was scheduled to participate in the Stonewall Democrats of Dallas’ screening and endorsement process on Saturday, even though, as a Republican, he’s not eligible for the group’s endorsement.

Now, however, according to an email to Stonewall — and copied to Dallas Voice — from Natinsky supporter Craig Holcomb, Natinsky has decided not to participate in the Stonewall screening. Holcomb, of course, is an openly gay former Dallas city councilmember.

Gentlemen,

Councilman Natinsky had been looking forward to participating in Stonewall Democrats’ screening tomorrow. However, since your bylaws clearly state that someone who has voted in a Republican primary is not eligible for endorsement, he will not be submitting a questionnaire or taking part in Saturday’s screening process.

Councilman Natinsky is opposed to disccrimination based on sexual orientation. That will not change when he is elected Mayor.

I am grateful for your prompt responses to my questions today.

Sincerely,

Craig Holcomb

UPDATE: Natinsky sent over this email addressed to “The Readers of Dallas Voice,” further explaining his decision:

I respect the GLBT community and had looked forward to participating in the Stonewall Democrats screening process.

However, when I learned that their bylaws would prevent me from receiving their endorsement because I have voted in a Republican primary, I decided it was more important to communicate directly with the community through The Dallas Voice.

Accordingly I am releasing my answers to their questionnaire to The Voice.

Stonewall Democrats, according to the email they sent, will be shredding all the other candidates’ questionnaires.

Sincerely,
Ron Natinsky

We’ve posted the completed Stonewall endorsement questionnaire supplied by Natinsky after the jump.

—  admin

Dunn wants to be a voice for LGBT Amarillo

CHURCH TIES | Amarillo mayoral candidate Sandra Dunn is a member of the board at Metropolitan Community Church of Amarillo. (James Bright/Dallas Voice)

Transgender mayoral candidate says anti-gay pastor’s campaign prompted friends to encourage her to run, but she is running to make the city better for everyone

JAMES BRIGHT  |  Contributing Writer
editor@dallasvoice.com

The opportunity to run for public office appeals to people from all walks of life. Sometimes these races attract more candidates than anyone would expect.

One such election is the mayoral race in Amarillo. There are 11 candidates registered for the May election, and transgender graduate student Sandra Dunn is hoping to motivate the LGBT community of Amarillo to put her ahead of the rest.

Although Dunn hopes she will have the opportunity to help the citizens of Amarillo, it was a few of her friends who got her to run for the office. She said they approached her after outspoken anti-gay pastor David Grisham filed to run in the election.

But Dunn’s reasons for pursing the office have nothing to do with Grisham.

“It can’t be about David Grisham,” she said. “It’s time to step forward into the light, wake everyone up, shake some cages, let people know that there are transgenders here and they can do the job.”

Dunn said the financial sector is where she hopes to make most of her changes if elected mayor.

“There’s a lot of money being spent on ideas that could be spent on infrastructure,” she said.

Safety is another area Dunn hopes to secure if elected. She said there are arrow signs throughout the city, some of which require maintenance and some of which are dangerous to drivers.

“Some of these signs are blocking stop signs,” she said.

Although Dunn only recently expressed interest in holding office, she has been involved in Amarillo politics for some time as a business owner. A retired Army reservist, holding the rank of Sgt. 1st Class, Dunn opened a military surplus store that took up about a city block. Unfortunately tragedy struck when Dunn’s business partner was beaten to death on July 29, which led to the closure of the store.

“We were building toward having a business we could run when we retired,” she said.

Dunn relied on her partner, and due to his death could not afford to keep the store open. The ripples of this tragedy have reached so far as to affect Dunn’s filing for the election.

Although she planned to transition in both name and gender early in the winter of 2010, the death of her partner made it impossible to go through with those plans. Due to the fact that she was unable to obtain a legal name change prior to the filing date of the election, Dunn was forced to register as F.E. (SandraDunn) Dunaway, using her birth name on the ballot and her name of choice as a nickname.

Dunn said her name came from an eclectic mix of influences. Dunn came from a family member for whom she has great respect, but Sandra came from a more unorthodox place.

“When I was younger I knew a bunch of girls named Sandra and they were always fun, so I went with that,” she said.

Later, Dunn and a few of her friends got together and decided she needed a middle name. After a short brainstorm, they settled on Faye — and Sandra Faye Dunn was officially born.

Despite the tragedy that befell Dunn over the past year, she has managed to maintain a stellar relationship with her family. She was married to the same woman for 16 years and is close with her kids, and Dunn said her daughter has thoroughly enjoyed her run for office.

“She has had the opportunity to do ‘Trans 101’ many times,” she said.

Although Dunn’s 25-year-old son lives in a different city, she said he is just as supportive when it comes to her campaign.

“He recognizes it’s my life and he stands beside me,” she said.

If Dunn is elected, she said the LGBT community would know they have voice that’s coming from them. She said there is still a lot of discrimination and she would like to work to combat how differences are handled in the city of Amarillo.

“You experience this mostly when applying for a job,” she said. “It’s almost like your IQ has dropped.”

Dunn said she is not trying to change the attitude of citizens of Amarillo, but will work to find a peaceful solution to their differences.

“Everyone is entitled to their beliefs,” she said. “What I’m after is to get people to open up their minds and see what these people are about. Be upfront with your beliefs, but don’t be hateful.”

Dunn said Grisham’s campaign and his group Repent Amarillo run off negative imagery and messaging. Although she has had only one encounter with him and has not personally heard him disparage her, Dunn said Grisham has poured out his opinions on his Facebook page.

“He spews a lot of hate and is very disrespectful,” she said.

Grisham isn’t alone with as far as being affiliated with a church. Dunn serves on the board of the Metropolitan Community Church of Amarillo as the secretary. She said she attends 98 percent of the church functions and enjoys the diversity in the congregation. “We have straight people who come here too,” she said.

Regardless of what happens in May, it is really a win-win situation for Dunn who will complete her masters degree in psychology online from the University of the Rockies in Colorado. She said if she doesn’t win she will most likely not run again in two years, but instead spend her time counseling transgender people like herself.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 18, 2011.

—  John Wright

WATCH: David Kunkle at Stonewall Democrats

Former Dallas police chief and current mayoral candidate David Kunkle spoke briefly during a Stonewall Democrats of Dallas meeting at Ojeda’s on Tuesday night.

The most interesting thing Kunkle said during his two-and-a-half minute remarks, in my estimation, is that he’d be the city’s first mayor “probably since the ’70s who lives in a real Dallas neighborhood.”

“I live a block and half off Greenville Avenue, right off an entertainment district, in homes that were built in the mid-1920s generally, so I understand city services and some of the problems with them,” Kunkle said.

I’ve posted video of Kunkle’s speech in its entirety above, and as you can see he didn’t specifically address LGBT issues. But I did manage to hit Kunkle up for a few questions both before and after. (He didn’t take questions from the audience after speaking.)

—  John Wright

Hunt, Kunkle to visit LGBT groups next week

Former DPD Chief David Kunkle

The Dallas LGBT community will have a chance to get up close and personal with one announced candidate for mayor — and another possible candidate for mayor — next week.

Local activist Jesse Garcia sends along word that former Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle, who says he’s running, will visit Stonewall Democrats of Dallas on Tuesday — a day after filing begins for city elections.

And City Councilwoman Angela Hunt, who’s considering a run for mayor but hasn’t announced a decision, will visit LULAC #4871-The Dallas Rainbow Council on Thursday.

Here’s Garcia’s note:

The Stonewall Democrats of Dallas meets Tuesday, Feb. 15, 6:30 p.m., at Ojeda’s Restaurant, 4617 Maple Ave. Dallas, TX 75219. Guest speaker is Dallas Mayoral Candidate David Kunkle, former Dallas Police Chief. For more information, visit www.stonewalldemocratsofdallas.org. Meeting is open to the public. Voter registration will be available at the meeting.

LULAC 4871 Dallas Rainbow Council meets Thursday, Feb. 17, 6:30 p.m., at Havana’s, 4006 Cedar Springs Rd., Dallas, TX 75219. Guest speaker is Dallas City Councilwoman Angela Hunt. For more information, visit www.lulac4871.org. Meeting is open to the public. Voter registration will be available at the meeting.

—  John Wright

Louisiana: Top & bottom

Part 2, profiling our gaybor to the East: Shreveport’s homespun gay appeal

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor jones@dallasvoice.com

KING OF CAKES
KING OF CAKES | The king cakes at Julie Anne’s are the best you’ve ever had, but all the baked goods soar. Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

We profiled the bottom of Louisiana as a travel destination earlier this month — now it’s time to hit the top.

With Southern Decadence right around the corner in New Orleans, nearby Shreveport-Bossier City doesn’t get the attention from gay travelers it deserves. But this neighbor to the east is making strides in cultivating its LGBT cred — and not just during Mardi Gras (although we like it for Mardi Gras a lot).

Much of the central business district is fairly compact and surprisingly lively. Less than a week after SoDec ends, Shreveport will gay up the state with the town’s second annual Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, sponsored by PACE (People Acting for Change and Equality) at the Robinson Film Center. The Robinson, like our own Angelika, is a mecca for artsy films (it was the only place in the region to show Milk a few years ago). It’s a beautiful, modern facility that, along with the ArtSpace across the street, gives Downtown an artistic vibe. That sense is augmented with John Waters in tow, which he will be for the fest.

Credit SBC’s progressives for standing up for gay rights. Last year, a city councilman threatened to yank funding for the Robinson because of the gay film fest. The reaction was large enough that not only did the resolution get nowhere, in December the city adopted a non-discrimination policy that covers sex and gender identity. (PACE is also sponsoring a mayoral candidate forum this Sunday.)

Walk or drive down toward the Red River to check out Sci-Port, an interactive science museum targeting families and especially curious kids, but an addictively entertaining place for nerds of all ages. The Sawyer Space Dome Planetarium inside offers everything from laser shows to calculating your weight on the moon (a boon to pound-conscious gays) and lets you show the stars on the day you were born. It also hosts the state’s only IMAX dome theater.

Just down the street, the Barnwell Memorial Garden and Art Center has a greenhouse that’s a hoot to wander through.

Farther away, but completely worth the drive, is the R.W. Norton Art Gallery, a huge museum of eclectic and excellent art, including “double elephant” Audubon portfolios and rotating high-end exhibitions. The self-guided cell-phone tour is an ingenious way to enjoy the art at your own pace.

Perhaps the most interesting attraction, though, is the Logan Mansion. Built in 1897, this private home (Vicky and Billy LeBrun live here full-time) is an architectural marvel bursting with history. It’s also full of believable ghost stories, which Vicky is more than willing to share. It’s one the best historic home tours ever.

Although SBC is not as famed as the Crescent City, all Louisianans know how to enjoy their food, and the culinary scene has several highlights.

Don’t miss the Wine Country Bistro, which deftly executes rustic dishes with French and American country influences. Try the perfectly seared scallops (the size of a fish) on a bed of bacon grits, a corn bread soufflé so sweet it’s more like spoon bread and a mixed berry cobbler with buttermilk ice cream that’s slap-yo’-mama good.

Bistro Byronz has branches in Baton Rouge and Mandeville, but the décor and fare cry out New Orleans, with traditional French dishes like cassoulet (a hearty white bean soup) and chicken paillard (a form of scallopini) in a casual setting that invites jazz music and mimosa.

Logan Mansion
GHOST TOUR | Logan Mansion offers one of the best hist- oric home tours anywhere. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

More formal and spacious, but just as delectable, is Giuseppe, an Italian restaurant with tons of private dining rooms for intimate parties. Try the Sunday “champagne symphony” brunch, which serves bottomless bellinis, mimosas or champagne for six bucks and has well-priced entrees. The razor-thin salmon carpaccio is a highlight, but the housemade pastas are unmissable.

OK, some of the food is more kitsch that cuisine — but even that is noteworthy. Julie Anne’s Bakery is home to the king cake, the signature confectionary of the Lenten season. If you’ve only choked down local grocery store versions, be prepared: They do ‘em right here (as many as 600 a day in the week before Fat Tuesday) and aside from being about as healthy a stick of butter, the flavors are heavenly. (There are other delicious baked goods here for the other 10 months of the year.)

On the other hand, it’s not a bad idea to plan a Mardi Gras season visit, where you can enjoy floats, a pet parade and maybe even get access to the pre-parade krewe parties where the massive moving structures are finished out. Some of the krewes are even gay — which goes to show NOLA doesn’t have a lock on queer-friendly Louisiana.

…………………………………..

LITTLE BLACK BOOK

Wine Country Bistro
Wine Country Bistro

ACTIVITIES & ATTRACTIONS
ArtSpace, 710 Texas St. ArtSpaceShreveport.com.
Barnwell Memorial Garden & Art Center, 601 Clyde Fant Parkway. BarnwellCenter.com.
North Louisiana Gay and Lesbian Film Festival (Sept. 10–16), NLGFF.org.
Logan Mansion, 725 Austin Place. R.W. Norton Gallery, 4747 Creswell Ave. RWNAF.org.
Robinson Film Center, 617 Texas St. RobinsonFilmCenter.org.
Sci-Port Museum, 820 Clyde Fant Parkway. SciPort.org.

DINING
Bistro Byronz
, 6104 Line Ave. BistroByronz.com.
Giuseppe, 4800 Line Ave. RistoranteGiuseppe.com.
Julie Anne’s Bakery, 825 Kings Highway.
Wine Country Bistro, pictured, 4801 Line Ave. Wine Country Net.com.

RESOURCES
PACE,
PaceLouisiana.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 20, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens