Last week a new group of passionate community leaders graduated from our Empower Houston Leaders class. Over the course of seven weeks our students learned the principals of direct action organizing and began projects to make their neighborhoods better. From organizing ESL classes to building a community garden, these graduates are ready to get to work using the powerful skills they learned.
Last month, Texans Together launched a petition to urge City Council to pass a comprehensive Civil Rights Ordinance to protect Houstonians against discrimination. Since then our organizers have been working hard to engage Houston’s traditionally disengaged communities about the importance of a local Civil Rights Ordinance and gathering support. Hundreds of people from all over the Houston area have added their name to our efforts, and today we got one more. Earlier this afternoon Mayor Annise Parker announced that her administration is ready to get to work with City Council to protect our City’s diversity. Speaking at the annual State of the City luncheon, Mayor Parker agreed that it's time for Houston to undertake the important work of safeguarding the rights and dignity of all persons.
(Today's blog was written by Texans Together's president, Fred Lewis who is an attorney and campaign finance expert.)
The United States Supreme Court’s just released decision to invalidate contribution is both a constitutional and policy abomination. The decision undermines American democracy, people’s faith in the integrity of our elections, and the legitimacy of the Court. In McCutheon vs Federal Election Commission, 5 judicial activist justices invalidated aggregate federal campaign contribution limits for individuals that restricted how much one person could give in contributions. Federal law had limited very rich individual donors from giving more than $48, 600 in contributions to federal candidates and over $74,600 to political action committees in a two year election cycle. Now the rich and powerful can give an unlimited amount of total contributions to multiple federal candidates and political action committees, although the limits they can give to any individual candidate remain—for now.
(Today's blog was written by Texans Together's Assistant Director, Jose Antonio Ramirez.)
Today, March 31st, marks both César Chávez’s birthday and César Chávez Day. Today serves as a commemoration to the legacy of service, community, environmentalism, and civil rights that César Chávez dedicated his life to. In addition to being a state holiday in Texas, Colorado, and California, President Obama has issued a Presidential Proclamation, encouraging Americans to make this a national day of service and education by speaking out, organizing, and participating in service projects to improve lives in their communities.
(Today's blog was written by Texans Together's president, Fred Lewis.)
It seems obvious to me that it is extremely unwise to leave hundreds of tons of dioxin, a highly toxic waste, in the middle of the San Jacinto River, capped with a liner covered with rocks, because of the all too real threat of hurricanes on our Gulf Coast. I came across today a real world example of the power of hurricanes. A National Academy of Science report indicates that Hurricane Katrina, which was a Category 3 hurricane, had winds so powerful that it moved, toppled, and caused a massive spill from a gigantic 250,000 barrel oil and gas storage tank. Yet the Waste Pits' potential responsible parties, International Paper and Waste Management, want people to believe that their liner capped by large stones would protect the public from dioxin being dispersed everywhere when (not if) a hurricane hits the superfund site. Really? They expect us to buy that?
Over the weekend a barge owned by Kirby Inland Marine collided with a tanker in the Houston Ship Channel, causing 168,000 gallons of oil to leak into the water, shutting down the Ship Channel and contaminating Galveston Bay. The economic and environmental tolls of this accident are yet to be seen, but with a third of affected birds already dead, and the Ship Channel’s traffic still limited, it doesn’t look good.
Saeed Rose is one of Texans Together’s most valuable organizers. He works 'round the clock to organize and engage underserved communities. Serving as one of the lead facilitator for our Empower Houston Leaders classes, Saeed has taught numerous community leaders the principles of direct action organizing. One of the things that makes him so effective as an EHL facilitator is where he got his start: in an EHL class.
The deadline to get covered is fast approaching. Under the not-so-new law, anyone who can afford health insurance is required to be covered as of April 1st. Those who choose not to get covered will have either $95, or 1% of their total income (whichever is higher) deducted from their tax return next year. If you don’t think you can afford private insurance on the Federal Exchange, click here. If you have insurance through your job, your parents, the VA or Medicaid/Medicare, you’re good to go. But if you’re one of the millions of Texans without health insurance, it’s time to start shopping. Online open enrollment ends March 31st.
Congratulations to Jennifer Mata who is in our Volunteer Spotlight!
Jennifer Mata has only lived in Independence Heights for about six months but she’s already doing great things to make her community better. Shortly after she moved in, Jennifer paid a visit to a church in her neighborhood, The East 39th St. Missionary Baptist Church. It’s a small church with a big heart and a long history of helping those in need. Founded in 1966 by Rev. Morsel Glen, the church has served its community for decades through worship services and outreach programs to feed the hungry.
Jennifer joined our Empower Houston Leaders class last month and within a week was working with Texans Together, Yes! Prep, and other community partners to revitalize the historic church. Through her work with EHL Jennifer is helping to paint and landscape the church and start a community garden, which will hopefully grow into a food pantry for the neighborhood.
We’re proud of Jennifer and the work that she’s done and value her as an Empower Houston Leaders participant. Community Leaders like Jennifer help Texans Together execute the civic engagement and community improvement projects that define the EHL Network. Congratulations, Jennifer!