Houston Mayor Annise Parker recently participated in the Victory Fund’s International Leadership Conference where she interviewed with the Washington Blade to discuss the failure of her signature ordinance and future plans for public office.

On the equal rights ordinance, Parker opined, “There are certainly things we could have done better. Do I think there’s anything we could have done to change the outcome? No.”

These comments represent a complete reversal from her rhetoric leading up to the election.

Parker’s signature equal rights ordinance was rejected in November by an overwhelming 62.5% of voters. The road leading up to the ballot box rejection was rocky—from the citizen-led petition drive just to bring the ordinance to a public vote—to two Texas Supreme Court opinions rejecting her blatant obstruction of her city’s own laws.

Of the Supreme Court opinions, Parker told the Blade, “[The court] played politics with our rights, and that’s what happens when you elect right-wing reactionaries.”

That statement is nothing short of hypocritical considering the mayor used her own taxpayer’s resources to obstruct the law and attack the free political speech of Christian-based opposition.

Parker did everything in her power to circumvent the rights of citizens to a vote on the ordinance by first wrongfully invalidating the citizen-led petition. She also subpoenaed communications of local pastors who spoke out against the ordinance.

After being repeatedly rebuked she tried a last ditch effort to deceive voters with misleading ballot language—which the Supreme Court of Texas ultimately deemed unconstitutional.

As opposed to recognizing problems with her failed law, and the terrible PR backlash resulting from her own tyrannical arrogance, Parker is now shifting blame by claiming that ballot timing is what doomed the ordinance.

Although council initially passed the ordinance in May 2014, Parker claims she expected to delay a public vote on the measure until November, 2016, hoping that presidential election year turnout would help save “HERO.”

Interestingly, this is her first reference to anticipating a 2016 public vote on the ordinance. There was no prior prediction when council passed it or when petitioners submitted signatures to force a public vote.

In the interview, Parker put emphasis on the anti-HERO ads that were ran leading up to Election Day. “I think there should be a certain level of social responsibility because while they were horrific ads…they were clearly fear-mongering and deliberate lies.”

The pro-HERO side made multiple claims of potential economic loss and the perception of Houston as an “unfriendly city” if the ordinance were to fail—claims that, at best, remain unsubstantiated. In fact, the NFL Host Committee already dispelled some of those rumors, saying the location of Super Bowl would not be dependent on the ordinance passing or failing.

Parker ended the interview by hinting at future political ambitions saying, “I’m the CEO of a $5 billion corporation and I make things happen. I don’t want to talk about it: I want to run things.”

Such a statement should trouble local taxpayers considering she spent the last six years running Houston’s finances into a ditch.

She hasn’t ruled out statewide or countywide administrative positions, which reinforce current suspicions that she is eyeing the Harris County Judge position—which is up for grabs in 2016. Taxpayers beware.

Charles Blain

Charles Blain is the president of Urban Reform and Urban Reform Institute. A native of New Jersey, he is based in Houston and writes on municipal finance and other urban issues.


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