November 18, 2006
A pro-music PAC?

John Nova Lomax has an interesting call to arms.

The way I see it, the artists and musicians who made Montrose the creative hotbed it was from about 1965 to 1995 have two choices -- fight or flee. In either case, they need to organize.

If they choose the latter, and they can't or don't want to leave Houston, they need to move en masse to a new neighborhood. What's been happening the past ten years is that ex-Montrosians are scattering all over town -- to the East End, Westbury and Garden Oaks and Oak Forest. They need to pick one neighborhood and colonize as a group. Perhaps the reopening of No Tsu Oh could be a bellwether event in this trend -- the area just to the east and north of downtown is as good a place for a Montrosian colony as any, even though the march of condos is already apace around there.

The other option is to fight tooth and nail. That's the path local writer and activist (and former Press correspondent) Jim Sherman has chosen.


Sherman says the time has come for knock-down-drag-out civic combat. He doesn't want to fight City Hall -- he wants to join it, to pack it with candidates friendlier to the old Montrosian/Washington Avenue way of life -- specifically, that aspect of it that loved loud music and long nights in the bars. The Puritan Roundheads have had their day here; now it's time for the fun-loving Cavaliers to ride again.

Sherman says the club owners need to band together -- to that end, he proposes a political action committee to be helmed by Pam Robinson of Walter's and Lelia Rodgers of Rudyard's. Between them, and with the cooperation of the city's bands and other venues like the Proletariat, Fitzgerald's, the Continental Club and Super Happy Fun Land, this group could raise mad cash through a series of benefit concerts. That money could be steered to the PAC, which could then fund one or more pro-music candidates for city council.

"With enough money, a ham sandwich could get elected to Council in Houston and probably serve the full three terms," Sherman notes. "And if the club owners and bands would unite in raising a record amount of money for electable, well-rounded pro-music candidates, it would bitch-slap the pols who are whores for the nNnNs and open the eyes of fence-sitters."

A little advice for your fledgling group, if I may.

1. There's 14 people on City Council, and the agenda is set by Mayor White. There will be only so much that one member can do.

2. It's very seductive to cast an election in terms of Us and Them, up until the point where you learn the hard way that there's more of Them than you thought. It's best to define your terms in such a way as to allow as many people as resonably possible to think of themselves as an Us instead of a Them.

3. Money most definitely talks. If you're going to form a PAC anyway, consider talking, and donating, to existing Council members who you think might be receptive to your ideas. Hell, talk to any Council member regardless of how friendly you think they'll be. You never know - they might surprise you. It's likely to be more cost effective than financing a fullblown campaign.

4. Remember that any campaign designed to bring habitual nonvoters to the polling place is an uphill task at best. Kinky Friedman was going to ride to the Governor's mansion on a wave of new voter turnout. Didn't work out too well for him. Voting is a habit. It's often easier to change minds than to change habits.

5. If you're going to recruit and run a candidate no matter what, consider the upcoming special election to replace Shelley Sekula Gibbs, if she ever formally resigns and a date is set for that ballot. It's sure to be a low-turnout affair, which will make your task easier, since you will need a smaller number of people to actually show up and vote to have the desired effect. I've got a preferred candidate in this race already, so it's not necessarily in my best interests to tell you this, but I'm assuming you'd have figured it out on your own anyway, so no harm done.

That about covers it. Last person I can think of who ran for Council on a single issue cause like this was Ray Hill, who made an unsuccessful attempt for (I believe) an at large seat after the sexually oriented business law was passed in (I think) 1997. I don't remember much about his campaign, and I can't find any election results online for it, but I voted for him. Good luck.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on November 18, 2006 to Local politics | TrackBack

8.9%, good for fourth place in a 16 person race. Incidentally, it was the seat that Chris Bell won in the runoff.

Posted by: Souperman on November 18, 2006 2:05 PM

I could write a book on this, but instead I'll just use my blog. :)

Posted by: Jeff on November 18, 2006 6:52 PM