Thursday, August 18, 2011

Houston Rainbow Flavored Political Intrigue

One of the sad and infuriating patterns in the rainbow community is that when it comes to trans civil rights and potential groundbreaking advances in it, we have GL people in this community who can be bigger oppressors of transpeople than our religious right opponents.

In Houston while our TBLG community is a relatively unified one at the present time, it wasn't always so. Back in the 90's we transpeople fought a pitched, contentious decade long battle just to be included in the then named Houston Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus.  Since then we have had transpeople serving on the Houston GLBT Caucus board and like Jenifer, even leading the organization.

As you TransGriot readers know, I'm keeping track of the potentially historic campaign of transwoman Jenifer Rene Pool for the Houston City Council's Position 2 At-Large seat now held by out lesbian and currently term limited councilwoman Sue Lovell..   

Jenifer, like Sue was president of the Houston GLBT political caucus.   Lovell served in that office from 1984-85 and Jenifer served in that position from 2007-08.   You would think that as a former GLBT caucus president Lovell would want someone like Jenifer to succeed her, would help a transsister out and wish to have someone that served on the Caucus to continue representing the Houston rainbow community's political interests on Houston City Council. 

But some interesting stuff is playing out right now that are raising doubts about that.

Rumors are flying in the Houston rainbow community that after Jenifer made her announcement to run for the Position 2 seat, several prominent gay Houstonians were contacted including current GLBT caucus president Noel Freeman about jumping into the Position 2 At-Large race. Freeman ran in 2009 for the Position 4 At-Large council seat that is currently held by councilmember and former HPD chief Clarence Bradford.

The person that did emerge to the community's surprise was little known and recently out in the community Bolivar 'Bo' Fraga.

He's the son of legendary Houston Latino activist and former District H councilmember Felix Fraga.  He filed to run in the Position 2 race against Pool and was promptly endorsed by Lovell.  

There is the additional things that make you go hmm community buzz that alleges Victory Fund board members were contacted and told that Pool is not a viable candidate in the council race despite the fact that she has as of this writing the endorsements of the Stonewall Democrats, the Stonewall Young Dems and the Houston GLBT Caucus for the Position 2 At Large Seat. 

The Caucus endorsement is huge in Houston liberal progressive political circles.  People who get that Caucus seal of approval usually tend to win in the fall.   Pool is also outfundraising Fraga as well.  According to the last city campaign report filed July 15,  Pool's campaign has raised over $30,482 and still has $15,015 in the bank   Fraga has raised $27,285 and has $14,988 in the bank

So explain to me how somebody who has raised more money than Fraga is 'not a viable candidate'?

One of the things that has me scratching my head about this situation is that District C, which includes the Montrose gayborhood, has a term limited councilmember in it as well in Anne Clutterbuck.  While former state rep Ellen Cohen is a friend of the community and is currently running for that seat, the smart political play would have been for Fraga or another gay candidate to run in that race and give the rainbow community the potential of having more than one TBLG person on city council instead of cannibalizing each other.

When we were building our post Voting Rights Act political power, a rule we African-American Houstonians followed until the late 70's was trying not to deliberately run against a fellow African American in Houston political races. 

Because of reapportionment and the Houston city population passing the magic 2.1 million mark, a charter mandated expansion of city council occurred which was just approved by the Department of Justice on August 9.   The Montrose gayborhood was moved out of the African-American dominated District D and paired up with the Heights and Meyerland.  Two additional seats opened up as well that Fraga could have run for.   Since he has the famous name in Houston political circles, he could have also run for the District H seat his father once held.   Why Position 2, especially in light of the fact the Houston trans community is trying to get representation on Houston city council for the first time since the late Kathryn McGuire tried to run?

Another one of the perplexing sidebars to this unfolding political drama is why in Hades is Fraga attacking two term councilmember Jolanda Jones, who is running for her third and final term in the Position 5 seat and like Jenifer Rene Pool, has also received the endorsement of the Houston GLBT political caucus?

Fraga is running in Position 2, not Position 5, so why is he whacking on somebody he's not running against?  Is it because his endorser Sue Lovell has issues with Councilwoman Jones? 

Or is it because Jones has been a standup ally for the Houston trans community?  I talked to her at the 2010 Houston TDOR after she eloquently spoke at, and know she was involved in the struggle to get Covenant House Houston to change their transphobic ways.

Jones has also been a warrior for Houston's African-American community on many of our issues as well, which makes her hated by elements of the Houston community.  

If Fraga has a problem with Councilwoman Jones, maybe he should have filed for the Position 5 race instead. 

Stay tuned, because the Houston political battles and intrigue really starts heating up after Labor Day.

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