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Interview: Mayor Annise Parker

Submitted by @GunsandTacos on October 2, 2011 – 12:37 pmOne Comment

Leon casino, Nearly the entire FPH staff give Mayor Annise Parker the Grand Inquisition

Foreword by Omar Afra

Illustrations by Mark Williamson

Oddly enough, Mayor Annise Parker has been strangely available to not only the media in general but to FPH specifically despite our ‘antics and shenanigans’.  As candidate for mayor prior to election, Parker sat down with us for a video interview where we subjected her to speed metal demons Golden Axe, prying questions about her candidacy, and even confused Lesbians with Lebanese. We thought she may never give us the time of day again after that but she has been gracious enough to let our entire staff interrogate her this time around.


Another issue that concerns many of our readers is the fact that the City of Houston still does not offer benefits to same sex partners. Are there any plans to change this, if so how soon and if not why not?

I was a City Council member in November 2001 when this issue was put to a vote by petition in a city-wide referendum. By a vote of 52%, benefits for unmarried domestic partners of the opposite or same sex were struck down by Houston voters. Being with my partner for over 20 years, I would like to have the same benefits as a heterosexual couple, but I’ve focused my energy on getting the City’s finances in order first.


What does Annise Parker do to relax after a day running the fourth largest city in the US?

I enjoy gardening and reading science fiction. I also enjoy classical music because it’s soothing.


Since you have vocally expressed your desire to get the City of Houston out of the crime lab business, and Harris County’s Institute for Forensic Sciences does not have the capacity to process the city’s back log of DNA evidence, is the city planning on signing contracts with other Texas crime labs (such as the DPS lab) to try and get the 15,000 rape kits processed more quickly and efficiently?

We are considering a variety of options, but yes part of the solution for the backlog is outside contracts. We recently had a contract passed by City Council, which will help.


It is a common complaint amongst those in the live music community that the level of ambiguity within the city’s current noise ordinance is harmful to business. Business owners understand that they have to live in a community and respect the rights of residents and property owners around them; however the perception amongst those in the arts and music community is that the balance has shifted too far in favor of home owners. Are there any plans to reexamine the ordinance with input from all the stakeholders (musicians, business owners, home owners, etc.)?

Yes, we are in the process of re-examining the noise ordinance, but the arts and music community should know that this ordinance exists to respect others. It’s important to know that I am a fan of music as well.


Why do we have over 200 officers committed to drug enforcement/ investigation and only 4 committed to human trafficking ?

I trust the judgment of my Police Chief and I know he places his personnel where necessary. Human trafficking is an especially important issue that requires more federal officials, so when you add in the federal officers who work with our officers it’s a much larger number.


How do you interpret the ‘constitutional mandate’ of separation of church and state?

It is the lack of influence of government in religion and vice versa. Both operate as separate organizations without either one having authority over the other in their decisions.


One of the huge obstacles Houston and its surrounding areas must overcome in developing and implementing green initiatives is the citizens’ ongoing resistance to change.  It is not in the nature of an average Houstonian to abandon what they know and understand (fossil fuels, SUV’s, trucks, diesel, etc.) in favor of something new… and, in this particular case (hybrid & electric cars, recycling, solar energy, etc.), intelligent.    As mayor, how do you work to overcome this “personality flaw”?  How does City Council work to overcome the personality flaw?  How will you convince the stubborn average Houston consumer to switch to green technology?

I disagree with the premise of the question. Although Houston is known worldwide as an oil and gas capital, it is also paving the way for green energy. We recently became the city with the largest fleet of electric cars and have partnered with businesses to have the most electric power stations of any city in the nation. We are leaders in LEED certifications and we are continuing to set the pace for municipalities to follow our example. Houstonians are proud to be trendsetters and developing widespread use of green technology is no exception.


When is the city going to realize that aerial gondolas are our future?

My goal is getting METRO Light Rail expanded. We need many more people to be transported across a large distance, which I think can be solved through a light rail transit system, but maybe one day in the future Houston will have an aerial gondola.


What is it like being an openly gay woman serving as mayor in a red state? Have you encountered much prejudice
so far as mayor?

It is always different when a woman is in a leadership position. Thankfully our city charter didn’t distinguish between a man and a woman in the description of mayoral responsibilities.


What services does our city offer to those who are struggling with addiction? Jail time doesn’t count…

Unfortunately a significant portion of the population in our jails has addiction problems. I agree that jail isn’t the best place to rehabilitate them, so if needed they are transported to a hospital. We are currently examining the possibility of offering an alternative to incarceration for addicts.


Do you feel crime is decreased by enforcement or do you feel it is decreased by education?

It’s decreased by both. HPD does an excellent job of enforcing our laws and they are careful to couple that with community outreach. They go to schools, civic club meetings and community centers to ensure everyone knows their purpose is to help keep our city safe.


Why is it so hard to find good tailoring in the Montrose?  Who does your tailoring?

Houston is very diverse and has something for everyone. I recommend trying out different options and eventually you’ll find what you’re looking for.

One Comment »

  • FPH | MOBSOLETE says:

    [...] out the October issue of the Free Press Houston for MOBSOLETE This entry was posted in Uncategorized by admin. Bookmark the [...]

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