By Marc Campos

Singing In The Rain And A Land Grab?

H-Town CM James Rodriguez made the front page of the Chron’s Metro section today. There is also a cool pic too a la Gene Kelly. Here’s the article:

“Speaking with one voice for Latinos. Rodriguez now the sole Hispanic on City Council:


Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle

Dec. 28, 2008, 11:29PM

Council member James Rodriguez says he wants to do a good job for all Hispanics in the city, not just in his district. He hopes to work for a Latino summit to encourage others to seek office. The volume of calls that pour into City Councilman James Rodriguez's downtown office has grown considerably since Nov. 5.

The calls have translated into more invitations to community events, more pleas for help with local problems such as gang violence and far, far more requests for political support.

The calls have come not because of any change in Rodriguez's status as a council member, he says, but because it was on that day when it became clear that he would be the sole Hispanic on the 14-member council.

He is fond of saying that when Councilman Adrian Garcia was elected to be the next Harris County sheriff, Rodriguez's southeast Houston constituency grew by nearly a factor of four.

"For many people, I will be the only Latino voice on the City Council, and that's something I take very seriously," he said in a recent interview. "I want to do a very good job to represent District I and also Latinos as a whole."

A host of candidates already have lined up to replace Garcia in a special election for District H expected to be held in May, and most political observers expect that a Hispanic ultimately will win the seat.

But for many, six months with only one Latino council member is far too long in a city in which at least 42 percent of the population — more than 850,000 people, according to census figures — is Hispanic.

Underrepresentation, they say, has become something of a rallying cry.

"There's kind of a discussion beginning to percolate within the Latino community," said Marc Campos, a political strategist, who long has worked to broaden the reach of Hispanic candidates in Houston and Harris County. "We need to step it up in terms of political empowerment. James will be the only Latino on the Houston City Council. ... It's kind of challenging. Something's not right with that picture."

Rodriguez said he hopes to work with other Hispanic elected officials in the area to host a Latino summit next year, where they can discuss the potential impact of the 2010 Census on redrawing district lines and how to field more candidates for school board, community college and citywide office.

Houston Mayor Bill White said he spoke to Rodriguez after it was clear Garcia would move on to the Sheriff's Office and asked him to "look after" several ongoing projects in Garcia's district.

"Since I moved to Houston, I've worked from the grass roots up to recruit and support Latino candidates for various offices in our region," White said. "We've made progress, but there's more progress to be made."

Rodriguez, 33, also has become an unwitting political rainmaker. Various candidates positioning themselves to run for mayor, controller and Garcia's vacated seat have come to him for an endorsement, a role he has not minded playing.

Of course, since he's been elected, many have speculated about another move Rodriguez might make in the future: a run to become Houston's first Latino mayor.

"Not anytime soon," Rodriguez said, laughing. "I just want to focus for now on being a good district council member." bradley.olson@chron.com

Way to go James! FYI: The Houston Area Latino Summit referred to in the article will be held on Saturday, February 14 of 2009 – stay tuned for more info.

Yesterday’s Chron front page story was about how the City of H-Town “allegedly” stole .09 of an acre of land from a couple of seventy something year old twin fellas to make it into an itty bitty teeny weenie park that will only be good for playing marbles or tossing washers. Check it out. The H-Town Mayor, CM Peter Brown, and CM Pam Holm didn’t come out looking too good in the article. The three are also running for the U.S. Senate, Mayor, and City Controller. I’m sure their opponents are filing away this article and will use it as future ammo. The piece also gave another black eye to the dreaded developers.

Yesterday’s Chron also had another story on what to do with the Astrodome. Check it out. It is just sitting there and we’re coughing up $3 mil a year to watch it deteriorate – tear it down.

On Christmas Night, Commentary and My Brown Eyed Girl went to see “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.” You have to check it out. What an incredible movie!

We also dropped off her Christmas tree at one of the recycling drop off locations and a few folks had dropped off their trees with the lights still strung on them – huh? How much effort goes into yanking the lights off of a tree anyway?

Pro football fans in the Lone Star State are done for the year and the Tribe visits The Yard for a couple of exhibition games in just over three months and I also got a cool ‘Stros gym bag for Christmas that you can’t find at the stores.

December 29, 2008 9:00AM

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