Tag Archives: Houston

Houston Pride Parade was Totally Gay

Pride Parade? That’s so gay!

Indeed it was. Here the day after, I think I’m suffering from Glitter Lung, which is not unlike Flavor Crystal Lung that besets our dear miners who toil for Frito-Lay to provide the world with coolest of ranch. Luckily I did not accidentally let ruptured glow-stick goo somehow get into my mouth. That is a lesson well learned from many a bar and bat mitzvah party. I am convinced that the odd flavor indicates glow sticks are not of this world, but are stolen alien technology reverse engineered from Roswell.

Of course, the day started at Anvil. And there is no better way to start a fun-filled event fraught with top-notch people-watching than a homemade Pride Parade Bingo game.

I don't think I saw a gay animal

I didn’t quite get a blackout, but did see most of the things. However, a good part of the game was also seeing things/people and then regretting that they weren’t on the bingo board. For example: guy in a mustache with gold lamé underwear.

We saw him first at Anvil, and then occasionally throughout the day

There was also the woman with the horse hoof shoes. Save it for Renaissance Faire, lady!

Do they have those in my size? Nay!

Of course, this was Houston and thus the usual Houston confusion as how to deal with people walking in the street. The Wendy’s on Westheimer charged $15 for parking, $2 for a bag of ice, and $1 to use the restroom. Totally gay.

Where's the beef?

Overall, the day really seemed to come into its own. First, there was the whole festival that preceded the parade. Given that the parade doesn’t start until 9 pm, that is a good day’s worth of having a gay ‘ol time.

Houston is a place that, due to city design and weather, one does not usually spot many pedestrians, even in the more walkable neighborhoods. Seeing the crowds walking along Westheimer was quite the sight to behold. If only every day were more like that.

The whole thing reminded me of being back in New York City, with youthful crowds just walking around. And best of all, random cheap hotdogs on the street! Another reason why Catbirds is one of the best bars in Houston.

the Best Bar

Grilled dogs vs Water Dogs: Whoever wins, we lose

The random mini-stages and musical groups were a surprising and welcome addition, not to mention felt like a personal fuck-you to Austin.

Yeah that's right Houston has music

We ended up in a friend of a friend’s apartment that overlooked Westheimer. The view was something else.

The sun shines on the crowds anticipating the gay pride parade

A view of downtown Houston

I kinda like this one. Thank you, Hipstamatic.

This is basically an ad for El Real.

Of course, we weren’t the only ones who recognized the benefits of an elevated view. A bunch of people climbed on top of Catbirds to watch from the roof. This also got my bingo square for “look at that fukkin’ hipster.”

Don't fall! (He didn't)

There were some great floats/cars in the parade. For example, there was the South Beach float.

The Lesbians Over Age Fifty float (Bingo!)

The marching band that played Lady Gaga.

And of course, Houston Police Department squad car number 69.

Come on, you know that totally was not on accident.

Of course, my personal favorite activity was watching the underage kids in the Wendys parking lot drinking for what was obviously the first time. They did not appreciate me yelling at them, exposing their secret hiding place behind the dumpster where the cops wouldn’t dare see them sneaking booze out of a large soda. It was all fun and games until one of the young rapscallions PTFO’d.

At least I assume that is what happened.

Luckily, he came to in a few minutes and hopefully learned an important lesson.

Overall, a fun time. It is difficult to tell whether the day was especially rambunctious because of New York having legalized gay marriage just the day before. Perhaps those on the street had a better perspective.

Here is Dan playing a ukulele at Clare’s apartment after the parade.

Tyrannical Houston Tow Trucks, and what we can do

Tow Trucks in Houston

Today, the Houston Press had a great blog entry about tow trucks. Specifically, how they act above the law, like a hoard of marauding bandits who regularly break into cars so that they can steal them and hold them hostage until owners pay outrageous fees.

Tow truck drivers in Houston can break into your car in order to tow it — against state regulations — and here’s why: Law enforcement ain’t gonna stop ’em.

We learned this by following up on an e-mail from a guy who says he watched a driver for Fast Tow jimmy the locks on an SUV in order to get inside and secure the vehicle for towing. (The truck was parked on a portion of the road that, at that time of night, was a no-parking zone). It made us wonder: is this legal? Should be a fairly simple thing to find out, no? Boy, were we wrong.

The blog’s comments section is filled with personal anecdotes about unscrupulous tow truck drivers who jimmy (aka break into) cars to make towing easier. Tow truck drivers will even wait and watch someone get out of a car and then go tow it, and then demand a bribe if caught by the owner.

A Semi-Personal Anecdote about Towing in Houston

While blog comments are not necessarily the most reliable sources, they certainly fit my own experiences. One of the best stories I have heard was from my college roommate Eric.

He had gone downtown for something or other, and parked in one of those parking lots where you slip the right amount of money into a little slit that corresponds with the number of the spot where you parked your car. This Rice University engineer was not one to cut corners or break the rules, but when he returned he found his car had gone missing. If I remember the story correctly, at first he assumed it was stolen, but then realized it had probably been wrongly towed. After getting a ride home, he contacted the towing company whose number was posted at the parking lot, attempting to locate he car. He tried to explain that it had been wrongly towed, but to no avail. Eventually, he had to pay the towing fee, which I believe was somewhere over $200.

The tow truck companies messed with the wrong guy.

He did some quick research, and decided to file for a hearing against the tow truck company. Well, of course, he won. Part of prevailing in such a hearing means he was awarded:

Court costs to the prevailing party;

The reasonable cost of any photographs to an owner or operator of a vehicle who prevails;

An amount equal to the amount that the towing charge or booting removal charge exceeded fees for non-consent tows; and,

Reimbursement of fees paid for vehicle towing and storage or removal of a boot.

Despite having prevailed in the hearing, my roommate had quite some difficulty getting the tow company to pay him back. Eventually, he had to get a sheriff to show up at the towing facility and force the company to pay back the money they basically had stolen.

Alas, not everyone is as resourceful and driven that Rice engineer roommate.

Indeed, in a gun-friendly place like Texas, it is easy to imagine such a situation turning violent. Someone walks out to his or her car, only to see a stranger breaking in through the window, preparing to tow it away. I know some small part of me would want to be able to pull a gun on such scum.

After all, the purpose of parking and traffic laws should not be to line to pockets of these disgraceful companies, but rather to maintain the safety of our roadways, aesthetics of our neighborhoods, and business interests of our parking lots. If someone offers to move his or her vehicle, and perhaps pay whatever fine exists for the wrongful parking, then that should be enough to fulfill the purpose of the law. Letting tow trucks run wild only increases the risk of harm to our communities and compounds the danger of our streets and freeways.

The comments on the Houston Press blog are certainly not wanting for personal examples of tow trucks making our streets more, not less, hazardous. Indeed, a quick google search can find many such instances.

However, despite the gut reaction, we do have ways to ameliorate this despicable practice that our city seems to tolerate. The way to defeat the hegemonic power of this tow truck regime is through the democratic avenues  of our duly elected officials.

City Hall needs to pass some laws.

There Ought to be a Law

First, Houston should impose strict liability upon tow truck companies. Regardless of whether it was their fault or not, tow truck companies should be held liable if they wrongly tow a vehicle. This legal standard would help ensure that the tow truck companies double check that they are correctly towing a vehicle. After all, the burden would be on them.

Secondly, Houston should not limit recovery for a wrongly towed vehicle to reimbursement of court costs and towing fees. The city should legislate that courts can provide recovery for Actual Damages.

To quote my Barbri practice book, Actual Damages means any damages recoverable at common law, including economic and non-economic, and tort damages. This standard includes mental anguish as well as pain and suffering.

Additionally, Houston should borrow from the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, and compound damages based on whether the wrongful towing was committed knowingly or intentionally. If the tow truck company knowingly towed a vehicle when it shouldn’t have, the court should be allowed to reward up to double actual damages. If the tow truck company intentionally towed a vehicle when it shouldn’t have, the court should be allowed to reward up to triple actual damages.

Such a calculation of damages may reach an rather high cost, but the power imbalance in the towing regime justifies creating an economic and legal incentive to guarantee that all towing is proper. After all, anecdotes and experience show that citizens have quite the difficult time negotiating with tow truck drivers. Tow truck drivers need incentive to admit to fault when confronted, and these sorts of damages are just the incentive that our city can provide.

Furthermore, Houston is a driving city. A person’s car is often a lifeline to work, school, family, or anything that Houston has to offer. To take away someone’s car is to remove her from a functioning city. City Hall should do everything it can to guarantee that those who have their cars wrongfully towed are properly compensated, and also guarantee an economic and legal incentive against wrongful towing.

Thirdly, Houston should prevent tow trucks from towing non-ticketed cars from public streets and parking lots. Tow trucks are not elected officials. They are not the police. They are not public servants and they do not act to protect and serve. Tow trucks are businesses, run by private citizens. They should not be allowed to remove other citizens’ vehicles at whim. Only upon approval from properly trained police officers should tow trucks have the authority to remove cars. We would not allow tow trucks to go around granting tickets for speeding or running red lights. Heck, Houston doesn’t even like it when the police do that via cameras. Then why do we let tow trucks enforce parking laws? This is a responsibility for the police, not private companies.

Fourth, Houston should legislate that tow trucks are city actors. If tow trucks are going to enforce parking laws like police, then they should be held responsible like police. If tow trucks are going to seize private property, then they should be held to same standard as the other grand seizer of property: the government.

Therefore, as state actors, tow truck drivers could be held subject to §1983 charges. This means that tow trucks could be brought to Federal Court for violating a citizen’s rights under the constitution. This would help ensure that tow trucks don’t just act in accordance with proper towing law, but act up to the highest standards of liberty. This would prevent discrimination in the method of towing. It would also allow drivers to remove their complaints from local elected judges who may be under the sway of tow truck company donors, and seek the judgement of the Federal Judiciary.

Fifth, tow trucks should not be allowed to breach the peace while towing. This rule would hold tow trucks to the same standards as repo men. Similarly to repo men, tow trucks generally do not need a judicial process before seizing a vehicle, nor do they need to provide notice. However, repo men are not allowed to breach the peace in the process of repossessing property. This means that if either repressor or the reposessee breaches the peace during a repossession, then the repossession is not OK.

If Houston applies this standard to tow trucks, it means that people who find their vehicles in the middle of being towed can stop the towing by breaching the peace. Breaching the peace requires no grand effort, a mere making a scene or loud temper tantrum should be enough. Heck, even onlookers who disapprove of a towing could prevent it by honking at the tow truck and generally breaching the peace.

Imposing this standard would help guarantee that if someone was being towed, well gosh darn it, he deserved it.

Finally, tow trucks should have to make reasonable attempt to provide notice to the person whose car is being towed and give that person a reasonable opportunity to move the car. Houston could accomplish this by creating standardized “notice cards” that people could place in their cars or under their windshields that include number where they could be contacted in case of towing. A tow truck would have to make a reasonable effort to locate such a card, contact the owner, and then grant that person a reasonable amount of time to move the vehicle.

After all, the purpose of parking and traffic laws is not to enrich private companies, but provide for safety, aesthetics, and business interests. If someone can move his car, then the goals of the laws are fulfilled. There is no need to force citizens to pay often-dangerous, private towing companies to guarantee that we follow the laws.

In conclusion…

The state of towing in Houston is despicable. However, we have a way to resist this towing regime without resorting to violence. We have our duly elected representatives in City Hall. So write the mayor, write your city council person, write the Houston Chronicle. We can change the laws.

Or we can throw some eggs at tow trucks, whatever.

New Houston Redistricting Map Ruins My Joke!


No! No! No!

No, Houston! No, Mayor Parker! No!

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. The new district, the district of the Heights, Montrose, Meyerland, and my family’s house was supposed to be the J District. This future Yuppistan, Uppermiddleton, or funny third thing, or whatever it was being called, was District J. The J District.

But now?


District C? What the hell is thatinterrobang

The whole bit, stolen from the Dirtfoot episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force, is that Gay is pronounced with with a hard G, so it sounds like Jay. Or J. And the Montrose district would be the J district! Don’t you get it? For the next 10 years I could make this joke. But now you’ve ruined it.

Sure, the map relieves concerns from the Hispanic and Asian communities about proper representation.

Sure, it includes Meyerland in my district, bringing together most of my shared interests into one collective body.

Sure, the map seems to allow distinct groups with shared goals to elect councilpersons who would represent their interests, rather than some sort of 51-49% split, and compete against each other in City Hall, fulfilling the goals of Republicanism as explained in Federalist X.

But none of this is worth it if I can’t rip off some awful and usually misunderstood, half-assed gay joke for the next 10 years.

So change C back to J.

Also they didn’t fix the St. John’s thing, but who cares.

Trader Joe’s coming to Houston?

To match Houston’s awesome selection of cheap beers, it looks like we may have a proper source of ultra-cheap wine, as Trader Joe’s comes to the Lone Star State with its three buck chuck, not to mention limited selection but inexpensive groceries.

The story, broken by the Dallas Morning News and Swamplot, should be music to the ears of cost-conscious foodies, spendthrift winos, and the 713’s collective Napoleon complex. Finally! We can join the ranks of those supposedly superior California and Northeast locales with their ever-so-hip TJ’s. This is even bigger news than the time Cleveland learned it was getting an Ikea.

But there are a few little points of doubt in this otherwise good news.

1. Does Houston have enough out-of-work youth to work at a Trader Joe’s?

If I’ve learned anything from my shopping adventures at the NYC Trader Joe’s, it is that the only people who work there are slightly charming, definitely surly, urbanesque attractive 20- and 30-somethings. I’m simply not convinced that Houston has enough of this visually important demographic to properly stock a TJ. And if they do work at Trader Joes, then who will work at Whole Foods, or Moon Tower Inn, or any bar along lower Westheimer?

Furthermore, with Trader Joe’s salary starting at $40–60,000 per year, store managers earning in the low six figures, contributions to a standard 401(k) plan, pay for entry-level part-timers at $8 to $10 an hour, and  health insurance benefits to part-time employees and their dependents, TJs is certainly a tempting employment option.

2. Trader Joe’s is going to Dallas first.

Dallas? Really? Screw Dallas.

3. Will Houstonians like the Trader Joe’s style?

The huge appeal of Trader Joe’s in places like New York City is that it is quality food at megacheap without going to a club store. TJ’s can pull this off by carrying fewer goods and extremely few outside brands, opting instead for its own private labels.

This policy does help nix those fallacy of choice issues where consumers spend hours contemplating their ketchup-catsup problems.

However, Houston’s modus operandi seems to be consumer freedom at all costs. Houston is the home of no zoning, Enron’s deregulation fantasies, and 26-lane freeways instead of public transportation. Houston has the reputation as a place where people will drive through 2-hour traffic rather than even contemplate mass transport, because personal choice and control is preferable to any sort of top-down dictation.

Through that philosophy, why would Houstonians want to shopwhere there is only one brand, when they could go to Kroger’s (not that Kroger’s lets go to the good Kroger’s) and choose among three trillion different types of cereals with marshmallows in them.

Furthermore, Houstonians already have the option of this sort of top-down, limited option shopping at Whole Foods or Central Market, and those places have higher quality, more options, and shorter lines.

Trader Joe’s will have to find some other way to stand out. I can think of three key niches that Trader Joe’s could fill in Houston

1.  poor-man’s, less organic Whole Foods

2. That Place With Three Dollar Wine,

3. The cheaper of a Whole Foods-Central Market-Trader Joe’s trifecta of yuppie grocery stores.

Which brings this blog entry to point number 4

4. Will Trader Joe’s really be that much cheaper?

In New York City, grocery shopping at TJ’s can cost nearly half as much as shopping at a normal grocery store. The lack of cars means that people are less able to drive for a deal, and thus usually only shop at places near them. This means less competition between stores. Furthermore, a premium cost for space means that prices are higher all around.

However, Houston has giant grocery stores that, due to cheap land and nearly-total car saturation, are in nearly constant competition. Options are abundant and prices are low in this open market fantasy land of giant parking lots and free samples. In NYC, people are willing to walk and wait in long lines to save money, but how much cheaper can things actually get in Houston?

Maybe applying TJ’s methods to a different style of city will still work, driving prices even lower. And people do go out of their way to get some of Trader Joe’s private labels. (I hear stories about people who will bring empty suitcases when visiting locales with TJs so they can bring home some of their favorite Trader Joe’s cereals). But that stark difference between Trader Joe’s and other grocery stores in New York City won’t exist in Texas sprawl towns. Trader Joe’s will have to stand on its own merits.

On that note, where will Trader Joe’s go in Houston? It will need a place with a large parking lot, probably near the more youthful inner loop neighborhoods. Maybe it will go in some of the less developed areas of Montrose, near Allan Parkway, or somewhere in the Heights? Then again, maybe it will take the Five Guys approach and start outside the loop along the I-10 energy corridor.  And if I remember correctly, the first Whole Foods in Houston was in a small shopping center along Bellaire at Stella Link. (Edit: I remembered poorly. The first one was on Shepherd, south of Westheimer, next to the Bookstop. Now it is a pet store).

Much like the lines at Trader Joe’s, I guess we’ll have a long wait.

Houston redistricting, River Oaks, and St. John’s School

[Edit: Credit to Greg’s Opinion for these awesome yet simple maps.]

The new redistricting map has been a pretty popular topic on the Houston blogs the last few days (though the Houston Chronicle website has had rather minimal coverage). One of the funnier comments on the new map came from The Houston Press’ Hair Balls Comment of the Day:

I love how they engineered District G to gay-marry the Memorial-area millionaires with the River Oaks billionaires.

That whole district looks like a closeted Republican phallus awkwardly inserted into District J’s orifice.

Admittedly, District G is a pretty funny shape. It is basically the Rich Jerk district, covering most of wealthy west Houston, reaching inside the loop to rescue away River Oaks from the too cool for school J district.

Admittedly, this makes a lot of sense. People with similar interests should be grouped under the same representative. On the other hand, 713 Brooks Brothers River Oakers may be insulted to see themselves paired with 281 Memorial types with their jacked up Tahoes and glitter-clad Abercrombie girls. It is George H.W Bush v. George W. Bush all over again.

And upon further inspection, perhaps that little River Oaks cutout isn’t the most optimal shape. Sure, upon first look it basically adheres to the unspoken borders of where the white women at:

Between Westheimer and the Bayou, ending at Shepherd was basically my old stompin’ grounds. However, there is one important River Oaks institution that is split by this map: St. John’s School!

While the new map appropriately puts those public school ruffians from Lamar in District J, (Lamar? More like Lame-r! Amirite?) it also abandons St. John’s Lower and Middle schools (not to mention the Lamar Towers) to the J hoards. The J recruiters could walk on to St. John’s south campus at any time to convert children, ruining the American family structure that River Oaks holds so dear except for divorces and trophy spouses.

This new map splits a prized River Oaks institution, setting brother against brother and Quadrangle against Quadrangle.

Perhaps city council could propose a little switcheroo before approving the new map, putting SJS’s lower and middle school into District G and the Upper School into District J. After all, lower and middle schools are largely populated by legacy kids who were born in River Oaks, will work in River Oaks, and will die in River Oaks, never leaving the protective barrier of those tree lined streets, with its annexes at the University of Texas and various Aspen ski ranges. However, the Upper School has slightly more Rebels, and it would be appropriate to place these burgeoning Fischers in the artsy J district.

This swap wouldn’t be a big deal. After all, St. John’s don’t have any actual population, so the campuses could be exchanged without offsetting the districts’ population balance. And it would be a nice little way of recognizing the underlying theme of the new city council districts.

Then again, in 10 years the glory of these districts may be changed with a new census. So would 10 years of a slightly awkward map just to prove a point be worth it? Sic Transit Gloria.

Houston redistricting, blacks, and Hispanics

While I am excited about the Houston City Council redistricting plan, and its new District J, not everyone is as pleased. With the opportunity for two new districts, there was a certain expectation that one would be black and the other would be Hispanic. So far, it seems like the map did not create a new Hispanic district.

This could prove to be a legitimate complaint, given Houston’s growing, and already pretty huge, Hispanic population. However, it isn’t as if there are no Hispanics on the city council.

One could hypothetically include Melissa Noriega, if we count marrying into being Hispanic. But I don’t think it works like that.

Yeah.... I don't think she's Hispanic.

However, while there are two (at least obviously) Hispanic members on city council, there are four black members.

This seems a bit off, given that Houston is 25.3% black, but 37% Hispanic or Latino. However, things are not that straightforward.

First, two of these black council members are at-large positions, elected by the entire city rather than by district. Going by a district-only basis, there is an equal number of Hispanic and black members on city council. So it is not as if the black community is being favored over the Hispanic community, at least not on a cursory view.

Secondly, the distribution of the Hispanic population lends it well to two districts.

Each red dot represents 25 White people, each blue dot 25 African Americans, each green one 25 Asians, each orange one 25 people identifying themselves as Hispanic. “Others” are rendered in gray.

Judging by the orange dots, there are two major isolated concentrations of Hispanic populations: one in north Houston, and the other in southeast Houston. It just so happens that these population concentrations overlay well with two current districts: District H and District I.

This is the old city council map.

And it just so happens that H and I are represented by Hispanic councilmen, and generally preserved under the new plan.

The other population centers seem too small or spread out to create a proper Hispanic district. One could try to combine those two population centers in west Houston and northwest Houston into one district. This would require combining, from what I can see, parts of the new A and F, cutting through G and C.

This is the proposed city council map.

However, creating a district like this would both smack of Jerrymandering (which currently isn’t justiciable, but is frowned upon), and could threaten to throw off the necessary population balance between the districts.

Furthermore, it is very well possible that a strong Hispanic political organization and voter turnout in Districts F or A could lead a Hispanic councilman. Or better yet, a good city-wide organization could get several at-large Hispanic council members. But the Hispanic political organizations so far have failed to accomplish this feat. Which leads to….

Third, Hispanic voter turnout simply isn’t high enough to get any more council members. Yes, Hispanic voter turnout in Texas did grow by 31 percent between the 2000 and 2008 elections. However, turnout in Houston is notably lacking. As Paul Burka noted concerning the 2009 Houston mayoral runoff:

The lowest turnout of any precinct in East Side barrio neighborhoods was 7.8%.

The highest turnout of any precinct in the East Side barrio neighborhoods was 8.9%

[By contrast, a] typical precinct in the Heights had a 30% turnout.

If Hispanic turnout were greater, then Houston would see many at-large positions filled by Hispanic representatives. Strong Hispanic political movements could push impressive candidates to a victory in districts with large, but not majority, Hispanic populations. However, Houston Hispanics haven’t been able to accomplish that. Blacks have at-large city council members, and have had a mayor. The gay community has a mayor and has put forward city council members. The Hispanic community is, ideally, next in line.

It is difficult to comment on this situation without sounding condescending or critical towards the Hispanic political community. But at this point, Hispanics have the population to be a major political force. New districts or no, at-large elections are theirs to lose.

Houston City Council Redistricting and Ellen Cohen

As required (well, almost required) under the city charter, Houston is adding two new city council districts due to population growth. After a few months of planning and debate, Mayor Annise Parker has released a proposed map. Public hearings start April 13.

This is the old city council map.

This is the proposed city council map.

It is difficult to get a sense of where exactly some of these boundaries fall. I spent a few minutes trying to do an overlay of the new districts on a city map.

I guess it isn't very good. But I didn't try very hard.

[Edit: Here is a great map overlay]

The two big changes, beyond merely adding two new districts, are the changes to District C, and the J District.

First, District C undergoes a major reshaping. Originally, C was the area around West University and Bellaire, following along that southwest Houston circle of 610 and 59, extending from that into Meyerland and that general area. Under the new map, C loses its northeast corner and southwest extremities, instead following along 610 south, up to Westpark, and following along the area between Westpark and Westheimer (I think) and out to the city boundary near Highway 6.

Looking at a racial breakdown of Houston in this somewhat confusing map by data king Eric Fischer, C probably won’t change too much racially. Some red dots are being trades for other red dots.

Each red dot represents 25 White people, each blue dot 25 African Americans, each green one 25 Asians, each orange one 25 people identifying themselves as Hispanic. “Others” are rendered in gray.

However, not all politics is race. District C is shifting from the more original suburbs to Houston’s new suburbs along the appropriately new Westpark Tollroad. The oldschool Jewish Meyerland suburbs are being taken from the inner loop communities and being attached to distant suburbs. Furthermore, I think a good deal of this area is medium density apartments interrupted by strip malls. It would be interesting to see a real breakdown along election results, comparing what is being taken from C and what is being added. To throw out a guess, Democrats are being taken and Republican votes are being added. The former District C city councilwoman Anne Clutterbuck was a moderate Republican. However, she is term limited out from running again, justifying such a notable district shift. The apparent shoe-in to replace her was former state representative Ellen Cohen. However, this change to the district has apparently drawn her out of the District C race.

Hypothetically, would Representative Cohen even be a good fit for the new District C? During her time in Austin, Rep. Cohen had an image of being that somewhat liberal Jewish grandmother. This would have been a great face for the old District C, with its combo of Meyerland, inner-loop lower-upper class, and parts of the Museum District and Rice University. The new District C, with its slice of tollroad Richmond strip suburbia, may be better suited for a business-y Republican type. Even Clutterbuck, with her commonsense Christian soccer-mom schtick, may not be perfect for this new district in which C is apparently for Commuter.

However, as Cohen indicated, while she cannot run for C, she can run for District J, which brings us to big change number two: District J!

District J will be, as the joke goes, the Jay district. (Wait, is it pronounced Jay or Gay? Its a hard G, right? He’s a Jay!)


The new District J will be “an almost painfully hip, edgy, so-cool-it-hurts” combo of the Heights, Montrose, Museum District, and Rice University.

During the redistricting planning stages, there were rumors of the creation of a “Gay Council Seat.” While it was dismissed at the time, this is basically it. The Houston gay community is one of the most politically organized Democratic demographics in the city, and there is little doubt that it could successfully run someone for City Council in J. However, Ellen Cohen’s political experience and hip grandmotherly appeal to J’s youthful community definitely make her an appealing candidate.

Furthermore, it isn’t as if Houston’s gay community has had trouble running candidates for city council in other districts.

We’ll have to wait and see if this new city council map is even approved. And while I am not glad that my family’s home is going to be part of the new District C….

My family is now on the bad side of the tracks...

I am really anticipating to see how District J will reshape the debate inside City Hall.