No Unequal Rights Coalition Responds to City and Court actions
Baptist Ministers Association of Houston * Houston Area Pastor Council * Houston Ministers Against Crime * AME Ministers Alliance of Houston/Gulf Coast * Northeast Ministers Alliance * South Texas Full Gospel Baptist Fellowship * South Texas District of the Assemblies of God * National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Dave Welch, 832-688-9166
Houston, TX – The citywide coalition of pastoral organizations and community leaders held a press conference today in response to the actions this week that began on Monday by Mayor Annise Parker and her City Attorney announcing that the referendum petition fell short of qualifed signatures.
"It is now an established fact that City Secretary Anna Russell "checked" 19,177 signatures and validated 17,826 of those, a 93% success rate, then discontinued since the minimum required signatures of 17,269 had been reached. Curiously, her report is dated August 1 but City Council members received only by email at 4:58 pm on August 4," said the pastors. "We submitted well over double the number she actually checked, leading to the conclusion that with that validation rate we could easily have double the number needed to satisfy the minimum needed."
The statement continued with an overview of the legal process, "Article VII-b sections 2 and 3 that govern the referendum process explicitly place the validation responsibility only on the City Secretary. No authority is given to the City Attorney. Furthermore, in Chapter 2-258 of the Code of Ordinances, the City Attorney has a role for Mayor and City Council only to "Upon request, he shall render opinions and advice…" and may "when requested in writing" offer the same to boards, commissions, etc."
They assert that City Attorney David Feldman unlawfully interfered with the validation process, making legal determinations rightfully belonging in the courts AFTER validation of signatures by the City Secretary. "We can reach no other conclusion than that Mr. Feldman is engaging in a conspiracy to deprive the citizens of Houston the right to vote on this referendum for which we have complied with City Charter standards. This is outrageous, unethical and unlawful."
The statement concluded by reaffirming their absolute commitment to continue the fight until its completion both in the courtroom, in public debates and ultimately at the ballot box. "U.S. District Judge Gray Miller saw through the city's delay tactic and State Judge Jeff Shadwick saw enough merits in our case to grant a Temporary Restraining Order suspending enforcement of the ordinance and setting a trial date for August 15. Tens of thousands of voting Houston citizens have spoken, have earned the right to be heard and we will fight for that right until it becomes a reality in spite of this calculated abuse of taxpayer money and government authority by the Parker administration."