Leave a new HERO to the next Mayor

I hate having to say this.


Opponents of Houston’s repealed equal rights ordinance haved placed 300,000 calls and will release a new TV ad next week warning about a possible City Council revival of the controversial non-discrimination law.

All that despite no certainty that Mayor Annise Parker will find the political will and, most importantly, the time, to bring forward new equal rights legislation in the dwindling weeks before her term is over at the end of December. Several City Council members are battling heated Dec. 12 runoff contests and unlikely to willingly delve into the politically charged law that 61 percent of voters opposed this month.

Shortly after the defeat, Parker said she had no set plan and needed to speak with council members about bringing back similar protections before she leaves office. But foes seized on her statement that some council members had suggested voting on individual protections, such as those offered in housing or employment or public accommodations.

“I’m going to sit down with the council members and see how they want to proceed,” Parker said. “We will also, of course, evaluate what the national and international response from the business community is, because that certainly will make a difference.”


Councilwoman Ellen Cohen, one of the biggest champions of the law, said Friday that she has no plans to broach any non-discrimination legislation before the runoff election and “most likely not” before the end of the year.

“It would be the decision of the mayor but I think right now we need to concentrate on the runoffs and move forward,” Cohen said. “Quite honestly, I’m comfortable taking a breath. I do have plans at some point in the future to make sure that equality is brought to Houston.”

I can’t see any justification for bringing up any part of an equal rights ordinance before the end of the year. The liars won this round. (*) The runoff election presents another opportunity to engage the fight, since Sylvester Turner and Bill King are on record stating opposing views as to whether or not they would introduce a new HERO if they win. Get Sylvester Turner elected in December and there will be a mandate to have a do-over, hopefully this time with a better rollout campaign. I wish it were different, but then if it were we wouldn’t need to be having this discussion at all. The way to change the conversation is to win the next election. Let’s focus on that.

(*) Way to continue to characterize the “debate” over HERO as a he said/she said disagreement about bathrooms and how effective that campaign tactic was, Houston Chronicle. Very Shape of Earth: Views Differ of you.

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13 Responses to Leave a new HERO to the next Mayor

  1. Joshua ben bullard says:

    In the 18 years of knowing parker in her official capacity I learned one thing for certain, when you want something bad enough,you fight like hell,inconvenience as many people as you can ,and do everything you possibly can to turn the tide,but at the same time looking back on her 18 years she has always known when it was time to begin collecting her things and packing up.

  2. Bill Daniels says:

    You’d think with this being such a big topic right now, people who have recently experience discrimination at the hands of business would be flooding the new media with stories about how apartment owners wouldn’t rent to them, business owners wouldn’t hire them, or how business owners fired them. You’d think the Chronicle, and the local TV stations would be chomping at the bit for those stories, so where are they, beyond the three black guys at the bar? I’m not talking about rehashing allegations from years ago, but stories of fresh discrimination, happening right now, in Houston.

  3. J says:

    Trans woman at the sink in restroom with my wife at an event two days ago. Complimented my wife’s blouse. Earth did not spin off its axis.

  4. Robbie Westmoreland says:

    So far this calendar year, there have been 149 federal job discrimination suits, 11 accommodations discrimination suits, 50 suits under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and 16 education-related civil rights suits filed in Houston. Now, some of those are frivolous, and many others will fail (the standards for proof in a federal civil rights suits are fairly high), but that’s over 200 filers who have felt that the problems they experienced were severe enough to merit a federal lawsuit. I don’t have access to numbers from the state courts.

    Media don’t report on each and every one of these because they’re fairly common, so the story needs to involve prominent or really telegenic people. Of course, the Press and other alternative media cover this sort of story, but local TV only does it to fill space in sweeps months.
    Lately, there’s the added problem that a person who is publicly described as a victim of discrimination becomes a victim of the Internet hate mobs who apparently don’t have anything better to do than roam from cause to cause screaming and threatening death – you have to be really dedicated to redressing a grievance to overcome some of the barriers that exist.

    The fact that a person has not experienced discrimination and has not heard about it happening a lot doesn’t actually demonstrate that it doesn’t exist.

  5. paul kubosh says:

    Obviously discrimination exists and the passing or non-passing of an ordinance by the City of Houston will not stop discrimination. Over 200 fillings over discrimination is impressive at least to me.

  6. Manuel Barrera says:

    Robbie I guess you are looking at the Federal Records, so how many of those were from within the City limits? Southern District is bigger than the city of Houston, heck it is even bigger than Harris County. I am assuming that was only for the Southern District, Houston division, and not for the entire state.

    Counties covered are Austin, Brazos, Colorado, Fayette, Fort Bend, Grimes, Harris, Madison, Montgomery, San Jacinto, Walker, Waller, Wharton

  7. Robbie Westmoreland says:

    It’s just the Houston division, which, as you note, includes several counties. Harris, of course, contains the lion’s share of the population, but some of the suits will have involved people in other counties. For a one-off, I’m not sure it’s worth drilling down that far. All the numbers are intended to show is that there are certainly people who feel that their civil rights have been violated in the simplest way I had ready to hand. Such searches are available on the PACER system for the district.

    As Paul says, the question shouldn’t be “where’s all this discrimination,” but “is this a useful and good way to address it.”

  8. Manuel Barrera says:

    While I did not mention it before, one also has to consider how many of those civil rights violations were against governments, which would have been exempt under HERO. Texas also has certain civil rights violations that can be litigated in state court, but those are all against government entities which are immune from damages, even from the city trying to collect.

  9. paul kubosh says:


    I am not a Civil Rights Attorney but I am pretty sure the Government falls under the Federal Civil Rights Statute. Heck Government sanctioned discrimination is where all this mess started.

  10. Manuel Barrera says:

    Paul, government entities do not fall under HERO so they could not have been fined by the City. So persons whose civil rights or HERO rights were violated would have no recourse, I am fairly certain that most of the cases mentioned by Robbie were against government entities or their employees.

  11. Robbie Westmoreland says:

    Most of the cases in my list were employment discrimination, which are most frequently brought against private entities.

  12. Manuel Barrera says:

    How would Hero have addressed those cases, Robbie? For the person that was not hired, HERO would not fight to get him a job. I can’t imagine the City having the kind of resources to engage in studying whether discrimination occurred, what powers would they have to compel.

    Pacer itself only has southern district, so that would include more than the Houston division. There is a site that list cases filed in the southern district.


    Below are discrimination cases filed in Harris County in state court

    201568578- 7
    Active – Civil JORDAN ALLEN, MARIANNA vs. TARGA MIDSTREEM SERVICES LLC 11/16/2015 333 Civil Discrimination Receive Case Notifications
    201568221- 7
    Active – Civil AGEE, ASHLIE vs.
    SAVASENIORCARE CONSULTING L L C 11/13/2015 125 Civil Discrimination Receive Case Notifications
    201566943- 7
    Active – Civil AZUARA, LESBIA vs. DAVID E HARVEY BUILDERS INC 11/9/2015 151 Civil Discrimination Receive Case Notifications
    201563279- 7
    Active – Civil SIMMONS, ALEXIS vs.
    HOUSTON METHODIST ST JOHN HOSPITAL 10/22/2015 215 Civil Discrimination Receive Case Notifications
    201563281- 7
    Active – Civil HARTRANFT, JEANNE vs. UT HEALTH SCIENCE CENTER-HOUSTON 10/22/2015 270 Civil Discrimination Receive Case Notifications
    201561325- 7
    Active – Civil ALDAY, VERONICA S vs.
    ARKOS FIELD SERVICES LP 10/15/2015 281 Civil Discrimination Receive Case Notifications
    201560881- 7
    Active – Civil HOLDER, ANDRE vs. INEOS USA LLC (IN ITS ASSUMED OR COMMON NAME) 10/13/2015 151 Civil Discrimination Receive Case Notifications
    201560644- 7
    Active – Civil PERKINS, NANCY vs.
    UT HEALTH SCIENCE CENTER-HOUSTON 10/12/2015 215 Civil Discrimination Receive Case Notifications
    201551011- 7
    Active – Civil GALVAN, ERICA vs. FRANCESCAS COLLECTIONS INC 8/31/2015 270 Civil Discrimination Receive Case Notifications
    201549182- 7
    Active – Civil PATTERSON, RHONDA vs.
    AMERICAN BUREAU OF SHIPPING 8/21/2015 133 Civil Discrimination Receive Case Notifications
    201546083- 7
    Active – Civil SONI, DALIP S vs. CB&I INC 8/6/2015 080 Civil Discrimination Receive Case Notifications
    201538441- 7
    Active – Civil ROGERS, SHERYL vs.
    LUBY’S INC 7/2/2015 295 Civil Discrimination Receive Case Notifications
    201532602- 7
    Active – Civil MELONSON, FRAN (DR) vs. ST LUKES EPISCOPAL HEALTH SYSTEM CORPORATION 6/8/2015 189 Civil Discrimination Receive Case Notifications
    201532357- 7
    Active – Civil SOLOMON, NELSON vs.
    HARRIS COUNTY SHERIFF DEPARTMENT 6/5/2015 011 Civil Discrimination Receive Case Notifications
    201509637- 7
    Active – Civil GREEN, CALVIN vs. CB & I, INC. 2/19/2015 061 Civil Discrimination

  13. Robbie Westmoreland says:

    “How would HERO have addressed those case”
    That would be the relevant question up for discussion, wouldn’t it?
    As opposed to the original question I was addressing with those numbers, that of whether discrimination was taking place at all.

    There’s plenty of room for discussion of whether HERO was, is or will be good policy without questioning whether discrimination happens.

    PACER, by the way, allows a user to specify the division being searched when using the Civil Cases report.

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