Banks Appointed to Citizen Police Oversight Board

Kris Banks

Kris Banks

On Wednesday the Houston City Council confirmed Mayor Annise Parker’s appointment of Former Houston GLBT Political Caucus President Kris Banks to the Independent Police Oversight Board.  The Oversight Board provides a way for Houstonians to have input into allegations against police officers involving use of excessive force, discharge of firearms, serious bodily injury or death or mistreatment of citizens.  The Board also makes recommendations on recruitment, training and evaluation of police officers; and considers community concerns regarding the Department.  Houstini talked with Banks about his new role:

[Houstini] Why have you agreed to serve on the Oversight Board?

[Banks] I believe the Oversight Board performs an important and vital function that benefits all involved. Police officers are granted extraordinary powers over their fellow Houstonians. They can, under legally sufficient circumstances, detain people against their will, walk into other people’s homes without their permission, and even use physical force to make people comply. We grant police officers these powers because they are necessary for the officers to do their jobs. However, with these great powers come great responsibility, and the Oversight Board exists as a check on those powers, thereby protecting the public against the very rare officer who uses her or his powers irresponsibility or excessively. It also benefits the police department. With the assurance that the Board is providing oversight, members of the public can be more confident of the police department, and form a better working relationship with officers.

[Houstini] What do LGBT Houstonians who have concerns about police behavior need to know about the mission of the Oversight Board?

[Banks] Historically, the LGBT community has had concerns about very broad and obvious police harassment, like bar raids. Incidents like these still occur (see Rainbow Lounge in Fort Worth), but they tend to not be the focus of issues that exists between the LGBT community and the police department. Concerns between the community and the police department now tend to be over specific incidents that sometimes come to light and sometimes do not. That being said, the IPOB will review internal police investigations for complaints of excessive force, any discharge of a firearm, any time there is a death or serious injury, or any matter the police chief refers to us. We make recommendations, and the chief has ultimate discretion. What I want to highlight here is that a complaint has to be made for the IPOB to have any role. Complaints have to be sworn, either by the complainant, or, if the complaint is anonymous, by the person taking the complaint.

LGBT Houstonians should also know that I take my role as a community representative very seriously. I will not only take my perspective as an LGBT Houstonian to the police department, I will also take the knowledge I gain back of police procedure back to the community. For instance, I mentioned anonymous complaints above. In the training I have received so far, I learned that organizations can be deputized to take anonymous complaints (LULAC and the NAACP are both deputized). Anonymous complaints are, unfortunately, a big concern for our community. Whether because our congress has failed to pass job protections, family concerns, or any other personal reason, there are still many, many people in the closet. But being in the closet does not mean that a person is not protected. I will learn more about the deputizing community groups and take that back to organizations in our community like the Caucus, Community Center and Transgender Foundation so they can begin that process (as a caveat, I do not have a full list of deputized organizations and any of these organizations may already be deputized).

—  admin

Defining Homes • Super (re)model

Remodeler Chris Sandlin says slow your roll before that redux

Wingren-Kitchen-5By Jonanna Widner

As a third-generation homebuilder and remodeler, it’s no surprise that Chris Sandlin opted out of a journalism career and instead chose the family business. He made the change in 2005 and with such a history of the industry in his blood already, Sandlin brings a fairly unique perspective to the market.

“I’m 30 years old, which is relatively young compared to others in my position,“ he says. “But I put a lot of time and energy into the right team of workers and sub-contractors to customers’ homes so the end result lives up to what the homeowners deserve. As a gay business owner, I’m happy in providing stellar home services to the community.”

Before moving forward with that remodel, Sandlin says to think before demolishing.

Wingren-Master-Bath-2Know when to remodel: “I commonly work with homeowners to determine whether it makes more sense to remodel or move. I approach each situation openly and honestly, and try my best to suggest what I think would be best, even if that means I don’t win the job.”

Remodel before selling: “This is usually the case with older homes that have not been remodeled recently. Homeowners accept my guidance for what sells. I have a good combination of experience in the homebuilding and real estate industry.

“There is a catch-22 here. If the house sells quickly, homeowners in won’t have time to experience the finished remodel project which tends to be the kitchen or master bath.”

“This can happen very easily. Most $250,000 homes do not need a $50,000 bathroom redo, nor does a $300,000 home need a $100,000 commercial grade kitchen. A wide variety of factors need to be considered, including how long they plan to stay in the home, what’s the budget, how it adds to the home’s value.“

Budget help: “When in the budgeting/planning phase with homeowners, research the values of nearby homes, especially with remodels. This has been helpful in concrete figures regarding their remodel, as well as experienced conjectures about how the remodel will affect the home’s future value.”

Don’t rush the details:  ”Too many homeowners want to rush into their project without a clear vision. Step back, assess the project and come up with a plan. With that, the end result will be everything the homeowner wants. Rushing into it without a plan will only result in more time, money and headaches.”

Going green: “This is an area I take pride in. As a certified green professional through the National Association of Homebuilders, I integrate green philosophies and I want to minimize waste factor and landfill component as much as possible.”

“I started making many green features as my standard a long time ago because I feel it’s the right way to build and remodel. I’m happy to see more homeowners interested in these options.”

DIY:  “I’m happy to help prepare homeowners for what they would encounter if doing it on their own. Sometimes it works out just fine, with small jobs that don’t require licensed tradesmen or city permits. When it comes to larger jobs, people need to know if they honestly have the time to do this in addition to the day job.”DH

Visit for more information.

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



















—  Kevin Thomas

Southwest issues follow-up statement on Leisha Hailey incident

The Internet is out at the house (screw you, AT&T), so I’m attempting to post this from my phone (wish me luck). Below is a follow-up statement from Southwest Airlines regarding Monday’s incident involving Leisha Hailey. Note that the statement says the incident occurred in El Paso, as opposed to St. Louis, as previously reported. I can’t post the link here, but what is it about El Paso and same-sex kissing? Anyhow below is the statement. I’ll try to get more when I’m back on the grid in the a.m.

Updated Information Regarding Customers Removed from Flight 2274

Additional reports from our Employees and Customers onboard flight 2274 during a stop in El Paso on Sunday now confirm profane language was being used loudly by two passengers. At least one family who was offended by the loud profanity moved to another area of the cabin. Although we have reports of what Customers characterize as an excessive public display of affection, ultimately their aggressive reaction led to their removal from the aircraft. We do not tolerate discrimination against anyone for any reason. In this situation, their removal was directly and solely related to the escalated conversation that developed onboard the aircraft.

Our tenets of inclusion and celebration of diversity among our Customers and Employees—including those in the LGBT communities—anchor our Culture of mutual respect and following the Golden Rule. The more than 100 million people who fly Southwest each year reflect the great diversity of our country and our Company — and ALL are valued and welcome. In fact, we’ve been recognized as a leader in diversity throughout our 40 years of service.

Our Customer Advocacy Team reached out to extend goodwill and a full refund for an experience that fell short of the passengers’ expectation.

—  John Wright

FEEDBACK: Why I’m supporting Kunkle

Why I’m supporting Kunkle

Thank you for the in-depth expose on the three major mayoral candidates (“Decision in Dallas,” Dallas Voice, April 8).

While there are different opinions regarding the candidates, David Kunkle is my personal choice. I have watched him closely over the last several years and was so impressed with his style of leadership and soft-spoken manner when he was police chief. He went all over this city, listening and getting feedback from not only the GLBT community, but everywhere.

Additionally, he is effective. He may not be the flashiest or most dynamic of the candidates, but he’s a keen thinker and avid reader focused on real world solutions on what works and what doesn’t.

He also appreciates the eclectic aspects of Dallas. That’s an important place to be in my mind, so that we can attract not only Fortune 500 companies but also the small businessman/woman and the budding creative entrepreneurs who want to live in our city.

I don’t know that I necessarily want another CEO as mayor. We hear all the time that government should be run like a business. I think it should not be. Contrary to popular belief today, government is not a business.

Municipal government needs an experienced and competent administrator. In addition to serving as Dallas police chief, David Kunkle also has experience serving as the assistant city manager of Arlington, which will provide him with a skill set from day one that will no doubt serve him well as mayor.

Ron Natinsky and Mike Rawlings both are pleasant gentlemen and they each bring their own “skill set” to the table and there are good people supporting them. But I’m going to be casting my ballot for David Kunkle.

Jay Narey

—  John Wright

Fact-checking Some Memes Regarding Transsexual People And Transgender Community

Thumbnail link to Facebook crosspost of Autumn Sandeen's Pam's House Blend essay 'Why Transgender Activism'
Within my Facebook pages is the crossposted essay entitled Why Transgender Activism.

One of the people who read the essay on Facebook left a comment in the comment thread. The commenter said this:

Autumn, what policy changes and lobbying are necessary for the Transgender movement when you exclude the Transsexual from the equation? It may be a stupid question, but I’m unable to think of any off the top of my head

There is no doubt in my mind that the premise for the question is incorrect. There isn’t a movement to exclude transsexual people and transsexual people’s issues from transgender activism — transsexual people’s civil rights are perhaps the major focus of transgender community activism.

Below is my answer to the commenter. I’ve added links and graphics for the response here at PHB (that one can’t eas asily add in Facebook) so people can reference documentation regarding my remarks; the documentation is to show that what I’m stating has factual basis.

__________, there are many memes out on the web that many are accepting as truth regarding transsexual people and transgender community that can be fact-checked. Some of the memes, when fact checked, turn out not to be truisms.

One meme that isn’t a truism is that I see crossdressers, drag performers, genderqueer people, and transsexual people as all being the same thing. I don’t. There are distinct differences between these groups of people, which is why there are different names we use for all of these groups of people.

But that said, there is also the commonality between these groups of gender expression that doesn’t fit into western society’s sex and gender norms. All of those groups of people are subject to discrimination and sexual harassment based on the commonality of gender expression; the sociopolitical transgender community umbrella exists as a movement to work on public issues that are common between those who don’t fit in society’s sex and gender norms. Stating that there are commonalities between groups of people doesn’t mean that differences are erased, it just means that within sociopolitical arenas, people have reason to join together to focus based on sociopolitical commonalities.

Another meme is that transgender activism excludes issues relating to transsexual people’s freedom, equality, and justice. That’s verifiably not true.

As one example that challenges the veracity of the meme, here in California where I live there are people who identify themselves as transgender who worked with Equality California — a lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community organization — for passage of the Equal ID Act (AB-1185) in 2009. Thumbnail link to Equality California's Equal ID ActAssembly Bill 1185 would have allowed qualified transsexual people born in California to return to the county of their birth to obtain a new birth certificate reflecting the correct gender, as well as any accompanying name change. There is law in California that implies that post-surgical, California born transsexual people who no longer live in the state don’t have standing to petition California Courts to change the gender marker on their birth certificates as California born, transsexual Californians have standing. The bill passed both state houses, and was vetoed by Gov. Schwarzenegger.

AB-1185 wasn’t legislation that was designed to remedy a sociopolitical issue that impacts crossdressers, drag performers, and genderqueer people, yet lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender activists all worked together to get that bill passed through both state houses. That’s what sociopolitical umbrella community activists do — these sociopolitical umbrella communities facilitate bridge building between subcommunities of a broader community. These coalitions of subcommunities specifically do work on issues that are of common interest of all, yet these coalitions also to work on issues that only effect a small number community members that fall under the sociopolitical umbrellas — sometimes these coalitions work on issues that effect a majority of the community members, and sometimes these coalitions work on issues that effect only a small minority of the community members — but these sociopolitical coalitions, formed under community umbrellas, provide the best opportunity for creating change for all of the community members at one point or another.

So, I’d argue against the truth of your premise that transgender activism doesn’t include work for transsexual people. There are many more examples than just this one example of transgender activists (along with lesbian, gay, and bisexual activists) working together to remedy transsexual people’s unresolved issues within broader society than just this one case I outlined above.

You wouldn’t have to look very hard or long to find more of this kind of example — Please take some time to do some looking for yourself to determine if the memes you’re hearing or reading can be verifiably fact checked to confirm or debunk the meme that you’re hearing or reading. I believe you might be surprised by what you discover about some of the memes you currently believe if you do some fact-checking of your own.

Another example of broader communities working for change of law or regulation for the benefit of transsexual people is the ACLU taking up the case of Illinois birth certificate gender marker updates in the case for Kirk v. Arnold. If you look at how the ACLU filed this case on their website, they filed it under LGBT Rights | Transgender.

It’s not always a perfect marriage between transsexual people who don’t choose to fall under the sociopolitical transgender community umbrella and those who choose to fall under the umbrella. It’s not always a perfect marriage between transsexual people who don’t choose to fall under the sociopolitical LGBT community umbrella and those transgender identified people who choose to fall under the umbrella. I don’t think I need to explain how badly transsexual people have been treated at times by other community members in LGBT community.

However, transsexual people’s lives have been improved by transgender community activism; transsexual people’s lives have been improved by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community activism. It’s not just theoretical that transgender activism has had positive impact for transsexual people; it’s not just theoretical that LGBT activism has had positive impact for transsexual people.

And, it’s not just theoretical that the activism accomplished under the transgender and LGBT community umbrellas will have positive impact on transsexual people into the future.
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

Happy New Years from Dallas regarding DADT

Last night, my partner and I spent New Years Eve in Dallas, Texas counting down the end of 2010 on the balcony of JR’s Bar and Grill in Dallas, Texas. It is within walking distance of our condo and was a great location to view the fireworks and the people driving and carousing in the streets below. More importantly, I struck up a conversation with a group of Native American kids celebrating. One of them asked if the hat Charlie was wearing was an OU hat because she had graduated from the University of Oklahoma. It wasn’t, but that led to the discussion that followed about Native American politics in Oklahoma, and their gay friend’s graduation from boot camp. I was able to tell him my story and ask him about Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

It made for a positive and inspirational New Years Eve to have this young Native American soldier profusely thank me for what I had done to help pave the way for him, and relay to me how much the military has already changed in welcoming the policy. I’ve said before that those who hysterically worked against us were a bunch of overwrought “Chicken Littles” and his story proved it. He told me how the military was already telling the soldiers not to worry about their bunkmate’s sexual orientation before Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was passed and that one day a gay or lesbian soldier might just save their lives. For someone who remembered the homophobic statements, “Not in my Navy!” by the older more homophobic supposed leaders in the military regarding service of openly gay and lesbian sailors, it was refreshing to see and hear first hand from a young Native American soldier testifying just how welcoming the military already has become. I’m impressed by the obvious foresight, military bearing and leadership and hope that same tone will be set in the other branches, especially considering the ridiculous assertions by General Amos during the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell repeal fight. I still think Amos should be asked to resign for his outrageous insubordination.

The new young gay soldier was also excited to hear I would be writing about our conversation on AMERICAblog Gay, but didn’t want his name used because he wanted to continue to blend in as “just another soldier who just happened to be possibly gay.” He said some of his friends knew he was gay, and would kid him by asking, “Are you gay?” and then follow it up with teasing laughter then shaking a finger while giggling, “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell!” Like those before him, he expressed how relieved he is to know if he does choose to come out then he will get to keep his career and benefits.

We must keep fighting, but we are winning this war for inclusion of LGBT Americans in all the promises laid out in our U.S. Constitution, and that chat with that one Native American soldier was most definitely the highlight of the evening besides the long kiss I shared with my man on the balcony of JR’s.


—  admin

FOX News rejects pro-Gay ad regarding DADT

Big surprise that Fox News adds another example of how unfair and unbalanced they are. Media Matters reports:

Once again proving that Fox News has a love/hate (perhaps more hate/hate) relationship with the LGBT community, the right-wing network has rejected an advertisement from the Palm Center featuring openly gay troops discussing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT), according to a press release obtained by Media Matters.

Palm Center’s communications consultant Cathy Renna told Media Matters that Fox News’ ad department wrote in an email explaining their rejection of the ad, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is still on hold, so claiming the military is planning repeal is incorrect.”

Renna countered, saying “the ad is a demonstration by Palm that the experience of allied militaries has been that having openly gay service members by their side does not undermine combat effectiveness. The important thing is that these are our allies talking about their experience.”

The Palm Center was trying to get a diverse audience to view the ad, hence their approaching Fox News. Fox News isn’t having any of that kind of thing.


—  admin

More info on Saturday’s Prop 8 protest in Dallas

If you’re interested in helping out with Saturday’s Prop 8 protest in Dallas but couldn’t make last night’s organizational meeting, there’s plenty of contact info and volunteer opportunities after the jump.

—  John Wright