Saturday, July 16, 2005

 

Hubert Vo at the West Houston Democratic Club

Hubert Vo was the guest speaker at today's West Houston Democratic Club. He discussed his experiences in this, his first session in the legislature. I should mention I worked on Hubert's campaign.

He began by thanking everyone for their support in his campaign.

Then he discussed partisanship and the way things work in the Lege. The entire freshman class had agreed at the orientation to try to work together and keep partisanship to a minimum. This pact made the Republican leadership a bit nervous, and the Republican freshmen got their arms twisted somewhat, so things sort of dengenerated from there.

Hubert also got his arms twisted a bit. The Republican leadership wanted him to vote for school vouchers and when he did not they killed Hubert's local bill. Though such tactics should not be surprising, it's sad.

Hubert commented that he doesn't understand why Republicans call themselves "pro-life" because a concern for life should not end with the birth of the child. (Interestingly, I am listening to Gil Scott-Heron's "Save the Children" in the background while I compose this post). Hubert is steadfast in his concern for children and families. Hubert considers education, access to health care, and the tax shifting currently going on in the Legislature to be critical issues for families.

Hubert told a story about when he first came to the US. At that time, he could bring only 5 pounds of luggage. He could not bring anything from friends for their relations, souvenirs. Just the clothes on his back and a few additional items. And he hearkens back to this experience each time he enters the legislative chamber. He's not carrying anyone's luggage: not any organization's, any individual's. He comes in fresh each day, ready to represent his district and the families of Texas.

He discussed the tax shifting scheme that is currently in the Legislature. In case you live under a rock, what is basically going on is that the legislature is intent on cutting property taxes and is using boosts in the sales tax percent and an expansion of the sales tax base to fund that tax cut and a little additional money for schools. However, Hubert mentioned the funds to schools under the proposed scheme would actually reduce in 2006 from 2003 in terms of real dollars. So it's billed as school finance but it really is not addressing the school finance problem. The other point was that families making under $100,000 per year get a tax increase and families making over $140,000 per year get a tax cut. The expansion of the sales tax base will include bottled water (a member of the audience commented after the talk that this can have a serious effect on areas which don't have potable water) - but not beer (See, the Legislature has priorities!), car repair services not already covered, hair cutting, among others.

Then Hubert told another story stemming from his emigration to the US. His father has six children, and got them all together and stated "you all will go separate ways, make different choices but we are all connected to each other through our family". He went on to liken this to the situation of Democrats. He said he believed the Democratic Party is the party of compassion, a party to support communities and families, and that people should vote straight ticket Democrat.
I think that's probably fine for most folks, except to say that Democrats need to run serious candidates in more races.

Jimmy Dunne asked Hubert what he thought of the telecom bill that would permit phone companies to offer cable. Hubert supports it, and this generated a lot of discussion. Several members of the audience were concerned that the end result would be redlining and extremely high rates in rural areas. Hubert shared this concern, but felt that this deregulation and the competition would be a good start in terms of improving services and reducing rates for most Texans.

I don't recall the other questions, except that Hubert was asked if he's going to run again (he is).

I am always pleased to hear him speak, because he's so very genuine. He's an ordinary person who's had extraordinary life experiences and as such has an extraordinary store of compassion and commitment to service. We are really fortunate to have him in the legislature, and our government would be greatly improved by having more public officials like him.
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