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Houston Council delays discussion of Equal Rights Ordinance

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At its regular meeting Wednesday May 7, Houston City Council accepted nearly a dozen amendments on a controversial Equal Rights Ordinance. All were tagged as well as the main ordinance, so the issues will come to the floor next week. (see Item 14 on the agenda). Most of the amendments were “friendly” technical clarifications to avoid alleged ambiguities. Some sought to weaken the ordiance by removing applications to private sector employment. Others strengthe it by gradually lowering the appication to private sector employment from 50 to 25, then to 15. Attorney Feldman also agreed to make several technical amendments as requested by Council Member Bradford who is also an attorney.

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The Equal Rights Ordinance was first presented to the Council Quality of Life Committee on April 30. Scores of people appeared to testify in favor of or in opposition to the measure at that hearing, and again at the Public Speaker session on May 6.

In other matters, the Council heald a public hearing on a plan to expand the parking lot of Fire Station 68 at 8602 Bissonet by taking a smal section (0.2125 acres) of the adjacent Braeburn Glen Park land. The Fire Department worked with Public Works and the Parks Department to asssure that the impact on the park would be minimal. In the absence of opposition from the public or disagreement within the administration, the matter will also be the subject of an odinance on next week's agenda. Ms. Carolyn Hanahan a former cety employee, was appointed fo fill vacant position 2 on the Houston Forensic Science LGC Board (crime lab) for the unexpired term ending June 30, 2015.

Most of the remaining 48 items were not controversial, and passed without opposition. At her press conference following the meeting, Mayor Parker discussed debate on the ordinance, ongoing discussion on the location of a botanical garden (possibly replacing the Gus Wortham golf course), and the temporary relocation of the weekly Farmer's Market to the Library due to contstruction along Walker Street. She noted that the Council will have challenging weeks ahead with the forthcoming Houston Equal Rights Ordinances, a new ordinance dealing with ride sharing services, and the annual budget.

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