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Online Voter Registration: Thursday’s Show (May 7, 2015)

The Texas House Elections Committee recently considered bills to make Texas the 21st state to allow citizens to register to vote online. The committee left both bills pending after hearing criticism primarily from Harris County, including Tax Assessor-Collector Mike Sullivan, Ed Johnson from the County Clerk’s office, and Alan Vera, who chairs the Ballot Security […]

The Texas House Elections Committee recently considered bills to make Texas the 21st state to allow citizens to register to vote online.

The committee left both bills pending after hearing criticism primarily from Harris County, including Tax Assessor-Collector Mike Sullivan, Ed Johnson from the County Clerk’s office, and Alan Vera, who chairs the Ballot Security Committee of the Harris County GOP.

Houston Democrat Carol Alvarado sponsors one of the bills, HB 953, which she says would curb government waste. She maintains paper registration costs more and requires more manpower than online registration. Opponents argue the current system works fine as is. On this edition of Houston Matters, we hear highlights of Sullivan’s testimony before the committee (Sullivan declined our invitation to appear on today’s program), and then we talk with Rep. Alvarado. We also hear from Dr. Jon Taylor, Chair and Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of St. Thomas.

Also this hour: Some call it transformation. Others call it revitalization. Some see it as gentrification. Whatever you call it, from Montrose to The Heights to EaDO to now some of Houston’s wards, there’s been dramatic change in many Houston neighborhoods in recent years. And with that change has come the displacement of some longtime residents who can no longer afford to live there. As income rises in a neighborhood, so does opposition to the development of any new low-income housing. Take Houston’s northwest side. Recently, Metro floated an idea to sell a closed park-and-ride location to the Houston Housing Authority to build a low-rent apartment complex. Nearby residents vehemently opposed the plan. The Metro board ultimately sold the site to Harris County for a multi-service center.

Do we need more affordable housing in the city of Houston? If so, where? And how do we accomplish it We ask Tory Gunsolley, President and CEO of the Houston Housing Authority, and Patrick Walsh, Director of the City of Houston’s Planning and Development Department.

Then: A new report from the National Women’s Law Center and the Poverty and Race Research Action Council indicates heavily minority schools in Texas tend to offer less options for girls of color to play sports than heavily white schools. Why? We ask one of the report’s lead authors, Neena Chaudhry, Director of Equal Opportunities in Athletics.

Plus: Why Jon Gnarr, the former mayor of Reykjavik, Iceland, called Houston home for a few months.

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