Houston’s Veterans Are Vital To The City’s Future

Ben Hall Is Committed To Improving Services & Communication With Veterans

October 31, 2013

Today, mayoral candidate Ben Hall pledged his commitment to Houston’s military veterans and their families and offered several policies he will implement immediately when elected Mayor. The City of Houston has the largest population of veterans, larger than any other city in the state of Texas. Unfortunately, the City has failed to accommodate or provide adequate housing, services or maintain effective communications with this vital and necessary population. 

These men and women come to Houston to substandard employment opportunities and inadequate services, and their concerns continue to fall on deaf ears in the Mayor’s office. Ms. Parker has failed to grasp the tremendous sacrifices these veterans have made to defend our freedoms, and has inadequately staffed and supported the efforts of the City to ensure needed resources and opportunities are made available to our veterans.  This is unacceptable.  These brave men and women deserve better. 

“We must benefit from the wisdom, courage, discipline and skills of veterans who have already demonstrated their commitment and work ethic to this country,” said mayoral candidate Ben Hall. “As mayor, I will improve the distribution of services, increase collaborative efforts, secure additional funding and, most importantly, identify opportunities to communicate with veterans directly and include them in the governance of this city. Our veterans have proven their skill and knowledge in the most challenging of conditions and if given the opportunity will apply those talents to serve this beautiful city.”

Hall announced six policies that he will implement as mayor to enhance the City’s relationship with our active military, our veterans and their families. These policies include:

(1)  Bringing new leadership to the Office of Veterans Affairs and maintain a fervent and active dialogue with the new director.

(2)  Convene a bi-annual veterans task force that will assemble local veterans affairs leaders to give audience to the concerns, needs and aspirations of each organization.

(3)  Repurpose closed public structures, such as public schools which taxpayers have already paid for and that already have necessary infrastructure and plumbing, to provide for additional housing facilities for homeless veterans.

(4)  Improve access to healthcare, counseling, employment and housing services for veterans by coordinating various government programs and local organizations to decentralize distribution of these needed services.

(5)  Facilitate increased employment opportunities and business development options for veterans inside the City.

(6)  Lobby for and secure additional federal and state funding for Houston to address the current strain on the Veterans Affairs Offices.

“Veterans are currently an underutilized talent in our city,” continued Hall. “Their training, skills, discipline and work ethic can immediately assist in the management and improvement of Houston. The present mayor has squandered this extraordinary resource. I will not!"  

It will be the policy of a Ben Hall administration to aggressively, and in a sustained manner, encourage and recruit veterans to assist the City’s multiple disciplines and to ensure that there are opportunities for veterans to seek gainful employment with and inside the City. Funding and access to services will be increased through partnerships across agencies and organizations. From day one of a “Hall for All” administration, veterans will have a seat at the table.

Ben & Saundra Hall Share Their Love With Houston’s Voters

New Ad Tells The Story Of Houston's Future First Family 

October 31, 2013

The Ben Hall for Mayor campaign has released a new television ad which features Ben and Saundra Hall sharing the story of how they met, fell in love, and became husband and wife. Married for thirty-two years, Ben and Saundra first met at church in South Carolina. They came to Houston together to build their future and have dedicated tremendous amounts of time and resources giving back to the city that has afforded them and their two children so many opportunities.

“This election, Houstonians have had the opportunity to not just get to know Ben but the entire Hall family,” said Julia Smekalina, press secretary for the Ben Hall campaign. “Ben and Saundra built their life and raised their family right here in Houston. The love that that they share for Houston is only surpassed by the love they have for one another. Saundra knows Ben better than anyone else and her dedication and support of his candidacy is a testament to their commitment to this City and Houstonians.”

The new television commercial will begin airing in Houston this week and is available online here. The transcript is included below:

TITLE: Goodness

BEN HALL: I met Saundra in church, I was seventeen.

SAUNDRA HALL: He’s wearing orange bell bottoms, white platform shoes, and I nudged my cousin and said, what is that?

BEN HALL: I was the first boy she ever kissed.

SAUNDRA HALL: I was attracted to his intelligence, but I was thinking more like pastor and pastor’s wife.

BEN HALL: April eighteenth, nineteen eighty-one, seven PM. Married thirty-two years.

SAUNDRA HALL: And he’s still never given me a proper honeymoon.

Ms. Parker Oblivious To The Loss Of Millions To Taxpayer

October 31, 2013

Houstonians are losing tens of millions under Ms. Parker’s watch. Yesterday, another audit conducted by the City of Houston Controller’s Office Audit Division revealed that Houston’s Public Works and Engineering (PWE) Utility lost $2.6 million due to repeat technician reread activity which is inefficient and costly to taxpayers. The audit was prompted by constituent concerns regarding the astronomical cost of their water bills.

“What Ms. Parker has been doing as Mayor is anyone’s guess. Clearly efficient and prudent management of the taxpayer’s money is not one of her concerns,” said Julia Smekalina, press secretary for the Ben Hall campaign. “These weekly audits beg the question, what else has Ms. Parker failed to do and how much of the City’s revenues have been wasted? It is inexcusable for Ms. Parker to threaten voters with higher taxes or a reduction in services since it is obvious she just wastes the money she is entrusted with and is not able to manage the effectiveness of city services.”

Two audits released last week by City Controller Ronald C. Green rang the alarm on this concerning trend. First Ms. Parker failed to recoup $1.59 million in underpaid concession fees from Avis Rent a Car Systems and lost $4.4 million in total savings during the life of the contract. A separate audit found that CIGNA, the City’s third-party healthcare provider, kept $4 million in rebates and savings that should have gone to the City.

Two Decades Of Ms. Parker’s Potholes

October 30, 2013

Ms. Parker continues to share her vision for Houston with voters. This morning, she sent a tweet summarizing her solutions to fixing Houston’s roads: 

“I share your frustrations with the condition of our streets. Can't fix years of problems overnight. We're rebuilding from worst first.-A” - @AnniseParker  

“No, Ms. Parker, you cannot fix the roads overnight but you sure could have tried to fix them over your last sixteen years in elected office,” said Julia Smekalina, press secretary for the Ben Hall campaign. “Ms. Parker has been managing this city for nearly two decades, overseeing first hand the deterioration of Houston’s roads. And now when Houston’s roads are in the worst condition they have been in decades, the best Ms. Parker can offer is that she will get around to fixing them, eventually. But how long do Houstonians have to wait before they can drive on safe streets?”  

Thirty-six years according to Ms. Parker. Voters have waited patiently sixteen years while Ms. Parker became frustrated enough with the roads conditions to actually acknowledge them. And now she expects Houstonians to wait another twenty years before they actually see improvements. 

And if Ms. Parker’s record on the drainage fee is any indication, voters should be wary of her promises. Her ReBuild Houston stunt turned out to be nothing more than lies. Voters will not be fooled by her empty promises again. 

Ben Hall offers real solutions to improving Houston’s road conditions. We must harness innovative technology, allocate resources correctly, and decentralize the deployment of public works so that road improvements occur across all of Houston. Ms. Parker has nothing to offer but lies, empty promises, and political stunts. 

Ms. Parker Should Have Worked A Little Harder 

October 29, 2013

Julia Smekalina, press secretary for the Ben Hall for Mayor campaign, issued the following statement regarding Ms. Annise Parker’s new television ad:

"Ms. Parker’s last ditch effort to communicate with Houstonians falls flat on its face. Her final ad fails to give even one solution to Houston's challenges and is nothing more than a false depiction of her disgraced tenure in public office. What Ms. Parker’s ad also fails to mention is this career politician sees only two options for Houston’s future: hiking taxes or cutting services. 

The fact is that Houston has become less safe and less economically sound under Ms. Parker’s watch. Businesses are moving outside city limits, roads are literally crumbling, schools are failing an entire generation, and burglaries are the highest in the country. While ignorance has been bliss for Ms. Parker, Houstonians are desperate for leadership that will not rely on tax hikes or elimination of services.   

All Ms. Parker's ad has to offer voters as they continue to head to the polls is a condescending statement about her love for Houston. If you really love Houston, Ms. Parker, you should have worked a little harder over your last sixteen years in office to actually address the City's challenge or implement meaningful reform.” 

As voters head to the polls to cast their vote for the future of Houston, the choice is simple. Ms. Parker has divided the city, marginalized communities, and remained silent on policies. Ben Hall is the only candidate who has acknowledged Houston’s chronic policy problems, offered tangible solutions, and made a commitment to being a mayor for everyone. The unprecedented voter turnout this election is a testament to the momentum behind the Hall campaign and towards a new vision for Houston. 

Ms. Parker’s Solution: Hike Revenue Or Cut Services

October 29, 2013

Ms. Parker has finally offered Houstonians a glimpse of what her vision is for Houston if voters give her two more years in office. Under Ms. Parker's shortsighted leadership, Houstonians will have two options: hike revenue or cut services.

Last week, Ms. Parker was a guest on the Edd Hendee Show on KSEV Radio AM 700. When pressed on her solution to growing revenue in order to address Houston’s fiscal challenges, Ms. Parker finally shared her plan:

“At some point if you have an unsustainable pension you have to…uh…either…yes. Hike revenue or cut services.”

“Finally Ms. Parker gives us a glimpse of her vision for Houston. Unfortunately, the future is not bright and means fewer services or higher taxes for Houstonians,” said Julia Smekalina, press secretary for the Ben Hall campaign. “Yesterday, Ben Hall released a five-point plan for economic growth in Houston. These are the policies Houston needs to increase revenue, create jobs, and grow the economy. By expanding the economic prosperity of the whole city, we can tackle Houston's chronic fiscal challenges. Ms. Parker’s solutions will cripple this city and burden every Houstonian.”

To listen to the segment where Ms. Parker acknowledges that Houston is looking at a massive tax hike in the near future click here. The full interview is available at KSEVRadio.com/hosts/edd-hendee.

To read Ben Hall's five-point plan for economic growth in Houston click here

Hall Offers A New Economic Plan For Houston

Five Reforms To Grow Business Inside City

October 28, 2013

Mayoral candidate Ben Hall released a five-point plan to promote business and job development inside Houston and to incentivize businesses to place their footprint in the 65% of the City that is currently classified as unsustainable.

Hall stood in front of Power House Gym, a small business located in Southeast Houston, with owner Luis Torres to show the impact that economic investment from just one business can have on an entire neighborhood. As mayor, Hall will lower the tax burdens, fees, and regulatory costs on businesses and will proactively encourage business development and growth inside the city limits.

Ms. Parker has admitted that she has no effective strategy to grow Houston’s economy.  Her policies have been to increase every possible fee, charge and cost to raise revenue.  As a result of the hostile environment, businesses are leaving and less revenue is coming into the City. Ms. Parker admitted that her only solution to addressing Houston’s budget shortfalls is a massive tax increase. Under Ms. Parker’s shortsighted policies, Houston will have to choose between hiking taxes or cutting services. That should not be the way forward for Houston.

Hall understands that the future of Houston rests upon the healthy and robust growth of businesses inside the city limits. Through pro-growth policy changes, Hall will make it easier for businesses of all sizes, especially small businesses like Power House Gym, to grow and prosper inside Houston’s city limits.

“Aggressive business growth inside the City depends on a simple truth: we must make Houston more business friendly.  We must make it easier, not harder, for businesses to do business inside the city,” said Hall. “The first step to achieve this is for a mayor to invest the necessary energy, skill and leadership to make businesses interested in the city. Second, we must make appropriate policy adjustments to help businesses grow inside the city. We cannot wait another two years to aggressively pursue growth, jobs, and innovation.”

Hall put forth the following five-point plan to foster business development inside Houston:

    1. Reduce property taxes by 2 cents in the first year to be followed by an annual property tax reevaluation with consideration towards growing jobs and businesses inside the city.
    2. Establish a proactive Office of New Economic Development and Growth with a focus on both domestic and international markets that will aggressively seek out and recruit new businesses to come into Houston
    3. Streamline regulatory and permitting procedures to more quickly process licenses and permits and to reduce current fees and permit costs.
    4. Replace the present undisciplined Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ) policies with an economic development policy that prioritizes investment and growth in the 65% of the City that has been characterized as unsustainable.
    5. Overhaul the City’s IT policies and practices to decentralize the permitting and licensing functions of the City and permit easier access to city resources online and at community facilities.

“I am excited about Mr. Hall’s plans for the City.  I want the city to work with us, not against us, to improve our neighborhoods,” said Luis Torres, owner of Power House Gym. “These policy changes will make it easier for more businesses like mine to open their doors and grow.  And from there, the possibilities are endless for what our neighborhoods can become. By increasing investment in these long ignored communities, the city will be getting back so much more than just tax revenue. We will immediately see safer, more prosperous communities.”

To learn more about Power House Gym Houston and Luis Torres’ work in the community click here. For more information on Ben Hall’s vision for Houston click here

Momentum Grows As Houstonians Vote For Hall In Record Numbers

Diverse Support For New Leadership In Houston

October 27, 2013

The Ben Hall for Mayor campaign announced that mayoral candidate Ben Hall has been endorsed by the Texas Conservative Review (TCR). Hall received an “A” according to the TCR 2013 City of Houston Candidate Questionnaire.

The TCR endorsement is another example of Hall’s diverse support and the uniting power of his campaign. Hall talked directly with every community in Houston during this election, working to unite Houstonians, not divide them. The unprecedented early voter turnout Houston is witnessing this election is a testament to the momentum behind the “Hall for All” campaign. 

The TCR endorsement included the following statements of support for Hall and his policies:

Fortunately, we have a strong option this year, Ben Hall, born of humble beginnings with a highly successful history both educationally and in the community. Ben is a strong fiscal conservative who supports a significant property tax reduction for hard-pressed Houston home owners.

He has also pledged to run a bipartisan administration. He has pledged to not ever give pay raises to high level employees while laying off lower level employees as practiced in the Parker administration. TCR enthusiastically supports Ben Hall for mayor.”

Hall’s challenger, Ms. Parker, received an “F” on the TCR questionnaire failing to offer real solutions to some of Houston’s looming financial challenges. TCR editor-in-chief Gary Polland writes in the current TCR Official Voter’s Guide:

“TCR firmly believes the voters were sold a bill of goods by Parker, and the second term of Annise Parker has revealed the truth. It is past time for a change at City Hall, and fiscal conservatives, by voting in historic numbers, can make this happen in November.”

The full TCR 2013 City of Houston Official Voter’s Guide is available here. A full list of endorsements Hall has received this election is available here.

Taxpayers Losing Millions Under Ms. Parker’s Watch 

Current Administration Lacks Leadership & Discipline

October 25, 2013

Two recent audits released by the City of Houston Controller’s Office reveal that Ms. Annise Parker has wasted millions of tax payer dollars and has failed to collect millions in savings from city contracts.

This tremendous loss in revenues to the City is indicative of Ms. Parker’s lack of management skills. It is evident that she cannot even perform the fundamental tasks of managing her employees and the city’s books. This lack of leadership and discipline makes it impossible for her to implement the visionary solutions needed to address Houston’s chronic problems. 

The two separate audits release by the City of Houston’ Controller’s Office Audit Division found: 

- Avis Rent a Car Systems, Inc. underpaid the City at least $1.59 million in concession fees and $4.4 million in total savings during the life of the contract. A total of $5 million in savings to the taxpayer (available here).

- CIGNA, the City’s third-party healthcare provider, kept $4 million in rebates and savings that should have gone to the City (available here)

“It does not seem like anyone is actually governing in the Mayor’s office. While Ms. Parker busied herself with her ‘press conference a day’ campaign supporting parking meter art and lawn-mowing, the City lost millions of dollars,” said Julia Smekalina press secretary for the Ben Hall campaign. “These audits reinforce that Ms. Parker cannot even manage the City’s basic finances. An unnerving fact considering Ms. Parker often touts her record as an accountant and her time as City Controller. As mayor, she has fostered an environment where the City simply throws money haphazardly at problems and undertakes pet projects to make it appear that real work is actually being done.”

Mayoral candidate Ben Hall promises a disciplined approach to managing the City’s finances and to maintaining a transparent dialogue with Houston’s taxpayers. Houstonians have lost all confidence in Ms. Parker’s abilities to govern and are running to the polls in record numbers to elect new leadership this November.

Ben Hall Endorsed By No Kill Texas Advocates

Hall Committed To A No-Kill Policy For Houston

October 23, 2013

The Ben Hall for Mayor campaign announced today that mayoral candidate Ben Hall has been endorsed by No Kill Texas Advocates, an organization dedicated to stopping the needless killing of healthy and treatable pets in Texas animal shelters through legislation and political advocacy.

As mayor, Hall would end the current BARC practices and would implement a no-kill policy for the City. Hall would also partner with private rescue and adoption operations to support a robust animal welfare climate in Houston.

Ms. Parker promised in previous elections to do everything in her power to transition Houston to a no-kill city. Her failure to deliver on that promise means that over fourteen thousand animals were either lost or killed by BARC in 2012 alone.  Houstonians should not have to tolerate two more years of this cruelty.

“As mayor, I will support a no-kill policy for the City of Houston,” said mayoral candidate Ben Hall. “I believe a society is judged by the treatment of its animals and right now Houston is failing to protect those who cannot protect themselves. Private animal welfare groups are in a much better position to effectively care for abandoned animals and the City needs to focus on supporting their efforts rather than getting in the business of the life or death of Houston’s animals.”

In a prepared statement from No Kill Texas Advocates, the organization officially endorsed Ben Hall as their mayoral candidate of choice:

“No Kill Texas Advocates endorses Ben Hall for Mayor of Houston. We believe that Mr. Hall is genuinely concerned about the horrific sheltering situation in Houston and is committed to creating a better, more humane sheltering system that will save more shelter pets’ lives. We believe that Mr. Hall is our best shot to drag Houston out of the dark ages of “catch and kill” sheltering and to create a more compassionate, financially responsible, sheltering system that Houstonians can finally be proud of.”

To learn more about No Kill Texas Advocates go to www.nokilltexasadvocates.org/

Daily Correction Of Ms. Parker’s Lies

FACT: Ben Hall Was A Respected Houston City Attorney

October 23, 2013

It seems that Ms. Parker cannot admit defeat. She is so desperate not to lose her title as mayor that she continues to cling to false accusations about her challenger and is wasting everyone’s time by refusing to talk about anything else.

The Ben Hall for Mayor campaign has already set the record straight - on numerous occasions - regarding the issue of taxes and it is clear that Ben’s righteous battle with the aggressive and punitive IRS is one that Houstonians empathize with and admire.

Now it seems Ms. Parker is hell-bent on smearing Ben’s respected tenure as city attorney. Since you have not learned your lesson Ms. Parker, we will correct you again.

In a letter available here and attached, former Houston Mayor Bob Lanier sets the record straight on Ben’s years as city attorney.

“Ben Hall was my first City Attorney. He performed a good job representing the City’s legal interests," writes Mayor Bob Lanier. "I am unaware of any credible suggestion that he was involved in a pay-to-play scheme while he was City Attorney. I am sorry that anyone would suggest otherwise.”

“What are you afraid of Ms. Parker," asked Julia Smekalina, press secretary for the Ben Hall campaign. “Stop hiding behind your campaign of lies and mayoral press stunts. Acknowledge the question that every Houstonian wants answered: what have you done to improve the well-being of Houstonians over your last sixteen years in public office and what will you do if given two more years to serve?”

Ben Hall Sets The Record Straight

A Clear Choice Between A Visionary And A Liar This Election

October 22, 2013

The Ben Hall for Mayor campaign released a new television ad to kick off early voting in Houston and to set the record straight as voters head to the polls. Ms. Parker has lied to voters about her mismanaged sixteen years in public office, her corrupt pay-to-play practices as mayor, and now about her challenger’s righteous battle with an overly aggressive taxing agency. Voters deserve the truth so that their decisions at the ballot box are based on a candidate’s record and vision, not lies and misinformation.

“Ben learned the hard way that the IRS does not respond favorably to being beaten in court to the tune of nine million dollars. We thank Ms. Parker for diligently getting Ben’s name out to voters and for those who may still have questions about his relationship with the IRS, his answer will be heard loud and clear across Houston this week,” said Julia Smekalina, press secretary for the Ben Hall campaign. “Ben has paid all his taxes but refused to be bullied into giving the IRS more than their fair share. Just like Ben defended his client and his family, as mayor he will defend every Houstonian to make sure that city officials use every tax dollars efficiently to address the needs of the whole city – not just to benefit the well connected at City Hall.”

Since Ms. Parker has no record to run on, she thought she could lie to voters to trick them into giving her two more years in office. But Houstonians see right through her underhanded schemes and empty promises. Ben is the only candidate who is offering real policy solutions to this city’s challenges and as voters head to the polls, the message is clear: “Hall for All” will be the next mayor of Houston.

The new television commercial will begin airing in Houston this week and is available online here. The transcript is included below:

TITLE: SPITE

BEN HALL:

I hate taxes, but my feelings toward the IRS aren’t much different. How about yours?

Mayor Parker was kind enough to tell you the IRS and I’ve had some disagreements over my taxes.

But, she just forgot to mention that right before those disagreements started we had sued the IRS for over nine million dollars, and won. Now, think that’s a coincidence?

Ms. Parker Threatens Voters

Uses False Rumors To Win Votes

October 18, 2013

Since Ms. Parker built her campaign on deceiving Houstonians and hiding her record, it seems she also believes that it is acceptable to lie to voters. She is threatening voters with false rumors about her opponent’s position, hoping that by tricking them she can get more support for her failing campaign.

Last month, the Hall campaign learned that Ms. Parker was falsely presenting Hall’s policies on pension reform to city employees. Hall set the record straight by circulating a letter reinforcing his commitment to city employees and pledged to work in collaboration with all voices at the table to address Houston’s unfunded pension liabilities.

“City employees are our best asset!” said mayoral candidate Ben Hall. “Imagine our City without them. We need all hard-working employees and I will work with you to make this the best City possible!”

But it seems that Ms. Parker is at it again, trying to scare voters into supporting her. This dishonest behavior is beneath the dignity of the Mayor’s office. Voters should not tolerate this and they deserve to know that their Mayor is so desperate to hold on to two more years in office that she will lie and cheat to do so.

Do not be fooled by Ms. Parker’s lies. Hall’s commitment to city employees, and to seeking meaningful pension reform, has not wavered since the first day of this campaign. Hall understands the dedication of city employees to serve Houston and believes we must honor all pension commitments previously made. But Hall also sees the grave danger of not reforming our pensions to ensure a sustainable economic future for Houston.

The original letter to city employees is below and here is Hall's commitment to pension reform.

Dear City Employees:

During the campaign season, a number of false claims may be circulated. Recently, I learned of a false claim that I intended to abridge or take away pension benefits from prior and/or present city employees. This is untrue.

For the record, firefighter pensions will not be taken away or reduced from what has been promised. I applaud the stability of the funding of the firefighter’s pension fund. Likewise, I will work with other employee groups to ensure protection of their pension benefits.

City Employees are our best asset! Imagine our City without them. We need all hard-working employees and I will work with you to make this the best City possible!

Should you have any questions about my position on pensions, feel free to contact my campaign office at 713-236-4255.

Hall for All!

Ben Hall

Ben Hall Calls For A Reduction In Houston’s Property Tax Rate 

Pro-Growth Tax Policy Would Ensure City’s Economic Future 

October 16, 2013

Ben Hall today announced his support for reducing Houston’s property tax rate by two cents, lowering the tax rate from $.63875 to $.613728 per $100 of taxable value. Today, Ms. Parker directed City Council to keep the effective tax rate for this year at $.63875, maintaining last years rate. Since the appraised values of properties have increased by four percent over the last year, maintaining last year’s tax rate is effectively a tax increase on Houstonians.

“At a time when Houston’s economy is rebounding, our city leaders must look for more opportunities to incentivize business growth and economic investment in Houston. Instead Ms. Parker asked City Council to maintain a tax rate that effectively increases the tax burden on citizens,” said mayoral candidate Ben Hall. “By implementing forward thinking policies, we can reduce the tax burden on individuals, drive additional economic investment, and increase tax revenue for the city. A two cent property tax rate decrease is a necessary first step in that direction.”

The city would receive $102 million in additional tax revenue as a result of this tax increase. For each penny of this tax, the city receives approximately $17 million in additional revenue. Therefore, by reducing the tax rate by 2 cents, the taxpayers would save $34 million dollars while the city will still continue to receive $68 million in revenue. More importantly, this tax burden decrease would exponentially drive new business and additional tax revenue by incentivizing additional investment in Houston.

“Reducing the tax rate is the type of forward thinking reform Houston needs but Ms. Parker has failed to advocate for even this simple change that would ensure Houston’s long term economic growth,” continued Hall. “We must reduce the regulatory and tax burdens on Houstonians in order to promote and sustain economic growth, not continuously drive up costs and drive out business.”

Ben Hall Refuses To Participate In Ms. Parker’s Election Scheme 

Stands Up For Voters Against 16-Year Entrenched Incumbent & Her Cronies

October 11, 2013

Mayoral candidate Ben Hall has canceled a joint screening with the Houston Chronicle editorial staff and Ms. Annise Parker. The cancellation follows after weeks of requests to the Chronicle to open the screening process to the general public or members of the media. No allowance was made for the Hall campaign to film the meeting for distribution. Negotiations with the Chronicle ended in a disrespectful “No” from their executive vice president.

The Chronicle refuses to scrutinize Ms. Parker’s record or to cover her failures. They are all but silent on her corrupt pay-to-play practices, her lies and mismanagement of the drainage fee, her lack of solutions to the pension liabilities, her ethical violations and financial improprieties, and her use of pet projects to fool voters into believing she has solutions to Houston’s real challenges. Voters deserve to know but the Chronicle does not feel that it is in their interest to tell them.

“The Chronicle has failed to provide unfiltered information or to inform the Houston electorate, instead serving as a megaphone for the interests of Ms. Parker and her cronies,” said Julia Smekalina, press secretary for the Ben Hall campaign. “This final refusal to accommodate increased transparency and access is further evidence of their loyalty to only a select few at City Hall.”

In light of this week’s mayoral debate, it became even more evident that voters deserve more opportunities to hear their top candidates challenge one another’s record, positions, and visions for Houston. The editorial screening was a perfect opportunity to increase access but the Chronicle’s refusal to go against the demands of the Mayor once again showed the true intentions of the newspaper - to spew propaganda for the entrenched and desperate incumbent.

“Ms. Parker’s vindictive campaign turned on voters directly when she forcefully shut down all negotiations for further televised, formal, debate opportunities,” continued Smekalina. “Since the Chronicle failed to place the interests of voters above the selfish agenda of an entrenched incumbent, the Hall campaign has refused to participate in further discussions or events with the newspaper.”

Here are emails and original requests to Jeff Cohen and the Chronicle staff from the Ben Hall campaign.

Ms. Parker Has Gone To Extreme Lengths To Shut Out Voters

October 8, 2013

Since day one of this election, Ms. Annise Parker has done everything in her power to distance herself from voters. She knows she does not have a record to run on and that she does not have any new solutions to offer. That is not a good position for a 16-year professional politician to be in.

Tonight, six of the mayoral candidates will participate in a televised debate on Houston PBS Channel 8 sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Houston Education Fund. Unfortunately, this will be the only televised debate voters get to watch because Ms. Parker decided it was not necessary to engage Houstonians in this election. As KHOU-TV news reporter, Doug Miller discusses in his recent story:

“The campaign of incumbent Mayor Annise Parker, running for her last term in office, made a politically strategic decision to participate in only one live television debate, scheduled Tuesday evening on KUHT Channel 8, the city's public TV station. Although a number of other stations hoped to host debates between the mayor and her leading rival, the Parker campaign's refusal to participate effectively shut down the discussion.”

We have a little less than a month until Election Day. Ben Hall is available to participate in several more televised debates and we look forward to working with any of Houston’s television stations to coordinate these efforts. Televised debates have been the standard practice in Houston elections so why should this year be any different? Just because Ms. Parker knows she cannot defend her record does not mean that she can dictate the election or refuse to answer to voters.

Ben Hall Will Fight For A Fair And Transparent City Hall

For Ms. Parker, Lucrative Benefactors Are More Important

October 7, 2013

Ben Hall dedicated his career to fighting for justice. Over nearly 30-years, Hall has defended the voiceless and demanded that their rights were defended in our court of law. That determination for justice did not make Hall any friends at the IRS.
In the late 1990s, Hall helped defend an innocent taxpayer against the unfair assault of the IRS. He won the case and made himself a target of the IRS’s retribution for the next decade. Hall has paid his taxes in full, on time, and has done more than is required of an honest taxpayer.

“I fought the IRS and won. I have made it clear that I will not be quiet against their vengeful attacks,” said mayoral candidate Ben Hall. “As Mayor, I will fight for everyday Houstonians with the same determination with which I fought the IRS and defended every one of my clients.”

Last week, Hall signed a pledge supporting a comprehensive 10-point ethics reform plan that would increase transparency of City Hall for everyday Houstonians. Ms. Parker has refused to support meaningful reform because she is terrified of what voters will find.

“I am ready to take the fight in defense of all Houstonians to City Hall. The present Mayor has sold her office to the highest bidder,” continued Hall. “Ms. Parker has spent 16-years shutting out Houstonians from City Hall and promoting corrupt pay-to-play to line her own campaign coffer. She will fight for only those with deep pockets. I will fight for everyday Houstonians.”

Has Anyone Heard From Ms. Parker?

October 3, 2013

It seems that Ms. Annise Parker is still refusing to be accountable to the people of Houston.  Last week our campaign discovered that Ms. Parker supported rampant corruption while in public office. The documentation of her pay-to-play behavior is available here. This corrupt behavior is disturbing and an affront to all Houstonians. Since Ms. Parker has failed to bring forward her own solutions to this problem, we are giving her the opportunity to sign on to ours. Yesterday, mayoral candidate Ben Hall sent a letter to Ms. Parker inviting her to join him in an ethics reform pledge to end the corrupt pay-to-play practices at City Hall.

Ms. Parker remains silent. We encourage the press to ask her why.

Ms. Parker Is Asleep At The Wheel

October 3, 2013

This is definitely not the news that Houstonians wanted to wake up to yesterday:

Chron_headline.png

It seems that Ms. Annise Parker did not feel that is was necessary to mitigate the impact to the city in the event that the federal government shut down. According to the Houston Chronicle article, Ms. Parker did not even bother to adequately inform her own staff let alone communicate with Houstonians about what the impact would be to city services.

Only after she was questioned about her lack of plan is did Ms. Parker address the issue. But that was a little too late. And while other Texas governments had contingency plans as early as last week, Houston’s assessment of urgent and long-term problems lags dangerously behind.

“Ms. Parker, you don’t have to hide from voters. Just be honest that you did not have a plan for this and that you do not have a plan for any of the other challenges facing Houston,” said Julia Smekalina, press secretary for the Ben Hall campaign. “We have given this Mayor a pass for too long. Voters need to know that her inability to govern is threatening the future of the city and the livelihood of every Houstonians.

Ben Hall Invites Ms. Parker To Join Him In Ethics Reform Pledge

October 2, 2013

Today, mayoral candidate Ben Hall sent a letter to Ms. Annise Parker inviting her to join him in supporting a comprehensive reform package to eradicate the corrupt pay-to-play practices rampant in the City of Houston. Following last week’s discovery of Ms. Parker handing out $65 million in taxpayer funded contracts in exchange for $1 million in political campaign contributions this election cycle, it is clear that something must be done to stop this corrupt behavior.

Hall has outlined a 10-point ethics plan and has pledged his commitment to end pay-to-play. Ms. Parker has remained silent on this issue and has failed to bring forward meaningful solutions. For the good of all Houstonians, the Hall campaign encourages Ms. Parker to join us in support of these proposals.

The letter is below and included here along with the new ethics rules to end corruption at City Hall. 

October 2, 2013

Mayor Annise Parker,

It is evident that the City of Houston has become victim to rampant pay-to-play practices. This corrupt behavior should not be tolerated at any level of government. We must set an example here in Houston and open up the doors of City Hall to all Houstonians and foster a transparent process so that taxpayers are kept fully aware of how their tax dollars are being spent.

It is shameful for any individual or business to contribute money to a candidate and receive a lucrative reward in return. I believe that we must hold all our elected officials to the highest ethical standards.

Last week I committed to supporting policies that will eradicate these corrupt pay-to-play practices. I invite you to join me in supporting this comprehensive reform package that will increase transparency and remove the corrupt element. These policies include:

1.     Two-year moratorium on accepting campaign contributions after vendors receive city contracts.

2.     Two-year moratorium on accepting campaign contributions from municipal appointees. 

3.     A candidate may not accept any contributions over $250.00 from an officer, director, or employee of a city contractor.

4.     When a contract is awarded or a person appointed, all campaign contributions given by that individual and/or company during the previous municipal election cycle must be disclosed immediately.

5.     Two-year moratorium on any city employees registering as a lobbyist or working for a lobbying firm.

6.     Require lobbyists to file reports and create a searchable online database showing information like names of companies they lobby for, amount paid, amount spent, amount spent on contributions, etc.

7.     No gifts will be accepted by the Mayor within the six months preceding an election.

8.     Create a searchable online database of city contracts awarded by all departments.

9.     Create a searchable city check register available online.

10.  Increased accountability through improving search capability for ethics reports.

I have enclosed these new ethics rules and my signature as a formal commitment to the implementation of these policies. I believe it would be in the best interest of all Houstonians for you to join me in support.

Sincerely,

Benjamin L. Hall, III

Ms. Parker Remains Silent On Houston’s Crime Wave

Hall Campaign Releases New Ad, Commits To Driving Criminals Out of Houston

October 1, 2013

This afternoon, mayoral candidate Ben Hall stood in front of Mah Express Chinese restaurant, the site of a recent violent robbery that claimed the life of another innocent Houstonian. Hall pledged his commitment to turning around the crime wave that has swept through Houston and victimized innocent Houstonians. Hall also challenged Ms. Annise Parker to break her silence and finally offer voters her solution to Houston’s crime epidemic.

“This evening, neighbors will come together to recognize National Night Out and to promote involvement in crime prevention and police-community partnerships. Houstonians are letting criminals know that they are not welcome on our streets. But where is Ms. Parker?” asked mayoral candidate Ben Hall. “Ms. Parker is not just silent on this life or death issue, she has gone as far as to actively pass the responsibility on to everyone else but herself. She has skewed numbers and ignored tragedies in a desperate attempt to not tarnish her already criticized tenure.”

Southeast Houston has experienced a string of violent crime but this problem is not isolated to one part of the city. Unfortunately, crime has become such a constant in Houston that many tragedies do not even make the news. From June to August of this year Houston experienced 34,789 crimes.  Entire communities live in fear and are being forced to take their own precautionary measures to feel safe.

“This is unacceptable and the silence from Ms. Parker must stop,” continued Hall. “Houstonians do not feel safe but I promise from day one of a Hall mayoral administration, criminals will know that they are not welcome in Houston. My police officers will know that they have my full support and Houstonians will know that they have me fighting for their safety every single day.”

Hall has offered a five-point plan to reduce crime and take back neighborhoods from criminals. Ms. Parker’s mayoral office and campaign have not offered a single proposal for what she would do if elected for two more years. To contrast their differences on this policy for voters, the Ben Hall campaign will be releasing a new TV ad this week that outlines the Hall plan for crime and contrasts it to Ms. Parker’s silence. The ad is available online here with the following script included:

TITLE: LESS

BEN HALL:

Here’s what Mayor Parker says about crime: ….

Here’s what I say:

We don’t need more police, we need less criminals! I’ll make their lives miserable; cleaning the city, cutting weeds. Just barely within the bounds of the constitution.

And install surveillance cameras like other cities, not traffic cameras, so we can catch ‘em.

Here’s a clue mayor; criminals don’t like to get caught.

Ben Hall Campaign Launches Voter Text Outreach

October 1, 2013

The Ben Hall for Mayor campaign has launched a new initiative to reach Houston voters and communicate with them on a platform where they already spend a lot of their time – their cell phones. The Hall campaign has partnered with Politikast, a mobile outreach firm that operated President Barack Obama’s successful 2012 voter text program that contacted 12 million voters, including 2 million in Florida, a state the President carried by 73,000 votes.

The campaign will send the following text to over 100,000 Houston voters with the below message and a link to the recent ad video, “Dream”: 

“Hi, I’m Ben Hall for mayor. I believe Houston’s the greatest city, but our challenges require leadership with vision. Visit www.bh4m.co/hallforall.”

“As the fourth largest city in the nation, Houston has nearly a million registered voters who all access information at different times and on various platforms. We are committed to making it as easy as possible for voters to learn about Ben’s vision, to engage with our campaign, and to take action to get new leadership elected this November,” said Julia Smekalina, press secretary for the Ben Hall campaign. “The text message campaign is just one part of our aggressive voter outreach. We will continue communicating with all voters on every platform that they engage on to ensure that every Houstonian is fully informed before casting their vote this election.”

The text message outreach follows the campaigns launch of a new Tumblr, AdiosAnnise.com that went live earlier last week. The campaign will use the new microblog to distribute information about Ms. Parker’s criticized tenure in easy to share formats like graphics, videos, and blog posts.

To stay up to date on the Ben Hall for Mayor campaign follow us on all our platforms including our websiteTwitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Ms. Parker's Desperate Campaign Distracting For Voters

October 1, 2013

Julia Smekalina, press secretary for the Ben Hall for Mayor campaign issued the follow statement in regards to Ms. Annise Parker's new television ad, which is yet another desperate tactic she is using this election to hide her record from Houstonians:

 

"Ben Hall has paid two and half times more in Houston property taxes than Ms. Parker. And while their one trick pony campaign insists on distracting voters with this nonsensical issue, Ms. Parker is dangerously close to running out of time to talk to voters about issues they actually care about. Where are Ms. Parker's solutions to Houston's soaring crime rates, failing roads and infrastructure, inadequate education system, and looming financial liabilities?

And if Ms. Parker really wants to question the ethical integrity of this mayoral race, why hasn't she explained her blatantly corrupt 16 years in public office?"

Ben Hall Will End Corruption At City Hall

Pay-To-Play Policies Will Not Be Tolerated

September 27, 2013

Mayoral candidate Ben Hall issued the following statement today vowing to end the corrupt pay-to-play political practices that have been rampant under Ms. Annise Parker’s administration. Recent findings that highlight the direct correlation between Ms. Parker’s political contributions and city practices have made it clear that Houston’s City Hall desperately needs new leadership and reform starting first and foremost in the Mayor’s office:

“We need to bring some honesty and common sense to the table,” said mayoral candidate Ben Hall. “It is flat wrong for a business or business owner to give money to the Mayor and then get business from the city in return. This shameful practice of insider politics has gone on long enough. Mayor Parker cares only about protecting her selfish political interests and has made it clear that only those who can afford to support her will have the opportunity to do business with the city.”

A Hall for All administration will open the doors of City Hall to all of Houston and reform these corrupt tactics so that no one is shut out, and taxpayers are not kept in the dark. Hall is committed to implementing the following new ethics rules once elected mayor:

1. Two-year moratorium on accepting campaign contributions after vendors receive city contracts.

2. Two-year moratorium on accepting campaign contributions from municipal appointees.

3. A candidate may not accept any contributions over $250.00 from an officer, director, or employee of a city contractor.

4. When a contract is awarded or a person appointed, all campaign contributions given by that individual and/or company during the previous municipal election cycle must be disclosed immediately.

5. Two-year moratorium on any city employees registering as lobbyists or working for a lobbying firm.

6. Requiring lobbyists to file reports and creation of a searchable online database showing information like names of companies they lobby for, amount paid, amount spent, amount spent on contributions, etc.

7. No gifts will be accepted by the Mayor within the six months preceding an election.

8. Create a searchable online database of city contracts awarded by all departments.

9. Create a searchable online city check register.

10. Increased accountability through improving search capability for ethics reports.

Annise Parker Is A Corrupt Mayor

Trades Tens Of Millions In Taxpayer Contracts For Campaign Contributions

(Houston, TX) – Houston Mayor Annise Parker has doled out over $65 million in taxpayer funded city contracts and awarded powerful political appointments in exchange for campaign contributions.

Campaign Finance Reports for the first six months of 2013 show Ms. Parker accepting more than $1 million in campaign contributions from special interests, including engineering firms, law firms, general contractors, commercial developers and certain Political Action Committees (PAC’s). $774,855.00 of those contributions came from entities that received a city contract or a political appointment in return. The remaining $325,657 came from special interest PAC’s.

The $1 million is half of all the money Ms. Parker has raised for her re-election campaign this cycle. If she was not an incumbent Mayor with the power to reward contributors with lucrative contracts and powerful positions in the nation’s fourth largest city, she would have a war chest only half of what she currently has.

“Like many professional politicians, Ms. Parker is taking advantage of her position and has forgotten that her real job is to serve the people, not spend their money to raise campaign contributions,” said Julia Smekalina, press secretary for the Ben Hall campaign. “City Hall needs to be cleaned up and that starts with ending this blatant corruption at the top of the food chain in the Mayor’s office.”

There are hundreds of conflicts and instances of pay to play including 54 contributions during the first six months of 2013 that came from people/companies who had been awarded city contracts during the same period.

There are numerous instances in her report of bundling by companies or contributions made within months of a contract’s award.

  • Gregg Reyes of Reytec Construction gave two contributions totaling $3,500. Reytec Construction currently does business with the City of Houston, having received a $2.6 million contract earlier this year and other contracts in the past.  In November 2012, KHOU reported that Reytec Construction had been sending out sub-contractors to work on asbestos-related projects for the city without warning the workers of the dangers or ensuring they had protective gear.  Reytec refused to talk to the reporters, and KHOU’s attempt to speak with the public works director resulted in his running down a stairwell to evade them.  However, KHOU was insistent, and the city eventually said it is the contractor’s job to make sure workers are safe.  KHOU found a problem with that since Reytec Construction is on OSHA’s severe violators list, “a select group of about 300 companies that the agency says are the worst when it comes to safety.  Three repeat violations landed Reytec on that list.”  This disturbing report did not prevent the city from awarding him another contract in 2013 or Parker from taking his contributions, also in 2013.
  • Calco Contracting gave her $2,000 on April 16, 2013, and was awarded a $1.7 million contract during a city council meeting on April 17, 2013.  This is an apparent violation of Houston ethics laws which prohibits contributions by contractors between the announcement of the proposal and 30-days after the decision for the award. 

Here are pages of contributors, amounts they gave to Parker, and the contracts or appointments they received.

Ben Hall Shares His American Dream With Houstonians

New Ad Contrasts Hall’s Commitment to Service with Parker’s Disgraced Tenure

Today, the Ben Hall for Mayoral campaign released a video for a new television commercial that will begin airing in Houston starting Thursday, September 26. The ad highlights Hall’s successful career and contrasts it to the corrupt and criticized tenure of Ms. Annise Parker.

“Ben Hall came from simple means and dedicated his life’s work to helping those who have been wronged or ignored,” said Julia Smekalina, press secretary for the Ben Hall for Mayor campaign. “To Ben, being Mayor is the ultimate service he can offer Houstonians. To Ms. Parker, this is simply another job on the long resume of a career politician. She long abandoned her constituents in favor of more lucrative relationships. The choice will be very simple for voters this election.”

Ms. Parker has faced criticism throughout her political career. When asked what voters really know about Ms. Parker’s 16-years in public office, most do not know the truth. Starting today, the Hall campaign will aggressively educate voters about the secrets Ms. Parker has kept, the promises she has broken, and the mistakes she has swept under the rug. Some of these, as mentioned in the new TV ad, include her:

  • Hidden millionaire status acquired while in public office;
  • Multiple Texas Ethics Commission violations including one for an illegal corporate contribution;
  • Mishandling of city finances including lack of leadership on pension obligations that ballooned under her watch as City Controller and Mayor.

This list goes on and on and over the next several weeks voters will learn about the real Ms. Parker. Today, the Hall campaign also released AdiosAnnise.com, a website that will allow Houstonians to learn about Ms. Parker’s dismal record and share the information easily with other voters.

The ad video is available online here and transcript is included below.

TITLE: DREAM

BEN HALL:

When I grew up, my sisters and I shared one bedroom.

But, I got scholarships, worked my tail off and I guess I’ve done okay.

I don’t think Annise Parker grew up with much either. But, she chose a different path.

Became mayor, then became a millionaire,

while getting cited for multiple ethical violations.

Now, I’m not sure that’s how the American dream is supposed to work.

 

Hall Endorsed By Baptist Ministers' Association & Harris County Republicans

Diverse Support Rallies Behind “Hall for All” Vision

(Houston, TX) – Mayoral candidate Ben Hall has been endorsed by the Baptist Ministers' Association of Houston and Vicinity and the Harris County Republicans. These two prominent endorsements show Hall’s diverse support across Houston and add to the growing momentum that will secure his victory in November.

“The “Hall for All” campaign is uniting this city and I am proud to stand with both of these important organizations to advance our vision for an even greater Houston,” said mayoral candidate Ben Hall. “This campaign is about all Houstonians and ensuring that every voice has an equal seat at the table. Unlike the present administration, I promise to unite and empower every Houstonian rather than marginalizing those who bring forward new ideas or challenge the status quo.”

“We believe that Ben Hall is the only candidate capable of uniting this city and ensuring that every neighborhood and community receives equal respect from the Mayor’s office,” said Dr. M. A. Miller, Jr. president of the Baptist Ministers’ Association of Houston and Vicinity.

“We believe that [Ben Hall is] the best, most qualified candidate to serve the citizens of Houston in this position,” said Robert Flanagan of the Harris County Republicans.

The Baptist Ministers Association of Houston and Vicinity is a faith-based organization made of nearly 300 distinct churches across Houston and advocates for more jobs, equal opportunity and justice, and quality education. The Harris County Republicans is a General Purpose Committee PAC that is dedicated to increasing Republican turnout in Harris County elections.

These two endorsements add to the already long list of supporters and come on the heels of a poll that show Ms. Parker's support plummeting. Only one-third of those surveyed in a KUHF/KHOU poll said they would vote for her in November, a dramatic drop from her slim reelection two years ago. To get the full list of endorsements go to BenHallforMayor.com/supporters.

Ms. Parker's Tenure Repudiated By People Of Houston

Voters Rallying Around New Leadership & Vision

(Houston, TX) – Julia Smekalina, press secretary for the Ben Hall for Mayor campaign issued the following statement regarding the recent Mayoral poll numbers released by 

“These numbers show what we hear every day – Ms. Parker's tenure has been repudiated by the people of Houston and she will not be reelected as the next Mayor. The slim margin that got her elected last cycle has evaporated and it is clear that Houstonians are searching for new leadership to set the city on track.

As Houstonians are beginning to see the vision Ben Hall has set forth, they are rallying behind his ideas for the city’s future. The grassroots momentum that we see supporting Ben’s candidacy is growing and will secure his election as Mayor.”

 

Crime Continues To Run Rampant Under Parker’s Watch

Houstonians Victimized Daily While Parker Remains Silent On Solutions

crime_choice.jpg

Crime in Houston is completely out of control. Last night, a man lost his life when two robbers opened fire in a Houston Subway restaurant. The day before, another man was shot at a local donut shop in northwest Houston. These crimes are far too common and Ms. Parker has failed to even acknowledge the problems, let alone offer a solution. 

“We live in a city where the Sheriff is not immune from having his home burglarized and regular Houstonians cannot enjoy a meal or a night's entertainment without being victimized. Ms. Parker seems content with letting this continue without leadership,” said mayoral candidate Ben Hall. “The real tragedy is that for every heinous act of violence that hits the front pages or the nightly news there are others that never even get acknowledged. Entire neighborhoods have been taken over by violence and whole communities live in constant fear. How much more of our city will be handed over to criminals before Ms. Parker speaks out?"

Just this July, Houston experienced the highest number of violent and non-violent crimes in the last year with non-violent crimes like burglary, theft and auto theft exceeding 10,000 incidents. But these crimes are more than just numbers. Each incident is another victimized Houstonian, and each victim is one too many. 

“As the leader of this city, Houstonians have looked to Ms. Parker to set an agenda that first and foremost protects them. All other priorities are irrelevant if a mayor cannot deliver on that fundamental promise,” continued Hall. “Her ignorance towards this problem is concerning and her inability to offer solutions is a sign of failed leadership.”

Ben Hall released a plan to reverse Houston’s crime epidemic and implement meaningful solutions that will take back neighborhoods from the criminal element and protect Houstonians. The full plan can be found here.

Ms. Parker has offered no solutions to this disturbing trend. Her campaign is silent on these life and death issues. Ben Hall will not be!

Crime In Houston Is Too High!

Ben Hall Offers 5 Point Plan to Address Problem, Parker Has Been Silent On Issue

Houstonians do not feel safe in their homes and their communities. Houston’s crime numbers remain dangerously high and criminals are victimizing us daily. The only thing we hear from the Mayor’s office on this issue is silence. It is unacceptable.

“As Mayor, I will make sure that criminals know this City belongs to the law-abiding, and not to criminals.  Criminals are not welcome in this city!  I intend to send a clear message that we will no longer sit by and allow criminals to hurt, kill and maim the innocent.  Your time is up in Houston!" said mayoral candidate Ben Hall. “The current mayor has announced no effective plan to address the problem, instead believing this to be a designated function of just the police. Leadership is needed to set a tone of intolerance for criminal conduct in this city. The consequences of crime are too high for a mayor to remain silent.”

Houston has witnessed too much horror at the hands of criminals. A few days ago, armed robbers opened fire in a Denny’s fatally shooting a grandfather who was shielding children from flying bullets. Shortly thereafter, burglars broke into Sheriff Adrian Garcia’s home and stole his weapon. This must stop!

Contrary to what Ms. Parker claimed earlier this year, Houston has a growing problem with crime.  According to FBI crime numbers, Houston murders, robberies, and theft went up between 2011 and 2012. In 2012, Houston experienced 26,630 burglaries, the highest number in the entire country. “It seems that the truth just does not matter to Mayor Parker,” continued Hall. “Crime is too important an issue to play politics with."

As mayor, Hall is committed to making public safety a top priority and has set forth a five-point plan to tackle this epidemic. His plan includes:

(1)  Increasing collaboration between all local law enforcement authorities and upgrading radio communications;

(2)  Increasing crime deterrence initiatives in neighborhoods with the use of camera technology;

(3)  Stabilizing pension challenges for law enforcement and first responders and increasing the number of officers;

(4)  Having non-violent criminals pay off their sentences by performing community services; and

(5)  Expanding job creation programs for first-time offenders to prevent re-imprisonment.

This five-point policy proposal will be further detailed at www.BenHallforMayor.com. 

Hall's Pension Commitment

It is no secret that Houston’s pension liabilities present challenges to an incoming mayor. Mayor Parker has failed to show any fruitful leadership on the issue and has not offered any proposals to deal with the problem in the future.  She has been an elected city official for nearly 16 years and must share the blame for the pension predicament.  Indeed, as the city's top financial officer she continually and unwisely overlooked these problems until now--during an election year.  Too little, too late is an apt phrase for her neglect.  

Only strong, compassionate leadership on the pension issues will bring resolution to conflicting interests.  Our employees deserve assurance that the City will honor promises made to them.  Too, the city as a whole deserves clarity and resolution of these difficult issues.  Addressing pension issues is a priority for Ben Hall.  Ben, however, does not bring a closed mind to the issues.  He is not inclined to blame the hard working employees of the city as the unchallenged source of the problem, nor does he believe ignoring the problem until election year is suitable.  Ben proposes to work with labor representatives, Austin officials and the hard-working members of the city and city council to bring fair and sensible solutions to the problem. This is an opportunity to resolve a historically troubling issue for the City, and Ben will not shrink from the challenge.

Notwithstanding any statements to the contrary, Ben Hall will be open to opportunities to resolve the pension issues for firefighters, police and municipal employees in a manner that does not harm or deny pension promises made to prior and present employees. Read Ben's commitment to city employees here. While reform is inevitable, Ben has not adopted any hard and fast position without further discussion and consideration of all parties' interests, especially those of the well-intentioned and hard-working employees of the city.  

However, unlike Mayor Parker, Ben will not divide and suppress opposition or contrary positions on the pension question.  The difficult process of debate will be used to perfect and provide a sustainable pension solution for the City and its employees.  Ben is committed to exploring creative solutions and understands that there is no harm to sharing of ideas to reach resolution.

Hall for All!

Coalition of Black Trade Unionists Endorses Ben Hall For Mayor 

The Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU) Houston Chapter endorsed mayoral candidate Ben Hall as their candidate of choice as Mayor for the City of Houston. 

"Mr. Hall is not new to city government and has shown great resolve for his commitment in his duty as a public official," said John W. Bland, president of CBTU Houston Chapter. "CBTU believes this is the right fit for our city government at this time."

"I am proud to receive the endorsement of the CBTU Houston Chapter and to have them join the ever growing list of Hall for All supporters," said mayoral candidate Ben Hall. "Our hardworking union men and women deserve recognition and support from the Mayor's office and I am thankful that the CBTU Houston members recognize my commitment to them, this great city, and our future leadership in job creation and economic development."

The CBTU is an independent voice of black workers within the trade union movement, challenging organized labor to be more relevant to the needs and aspirations of Black and poor workers.Click here for a full list of organizations and individuals who have endorsed Ben Hall.

Ben Hall Campaign Requests Equal Access For All Houston Voters

Unique Opportunity To Hear From Mayoral Candidates Should Be Made Public (9/5/13)

Julia Smekalina, press secretary for the Ben Hall for Mayor campaign sent the following letter to Jeff Cohen, executive vice president and executive editor, editorial pages for the Houston Chronicle requesting that theOctober 11, 2013 editorial board meeting with both Ms. Annise Parker and Ben Hall be made open to all media outlets.

"Since Ms. Parker refuses to debate, we respectfully request that you do a service to the people of Houston and open this meeting to all media outlets to allow all Houstonians to be part of this important conversation," said Smekalina. 

The full copy of the letter is below and attached. Attached is also a record that Ms. Parker has confirmed her attendance at this meeting:

The Houston Chronicle has extended an invitation to mayoral candidates Annise Parker and Ben Hall to meet together with the editorial board staff on October 11, 2013. We confirm Ben Hall’s attendance and request that the meeting is made open to all media outlets and is allowed to be streamed live on both TV and radio.

Considering the lack of transparency in this election and the fact that voters have been denied the opportunity to have their candidates meet face to face in formal, televised, and moderated debates, we believe this meeting could serve as a unique opportunity to hear from the mayoral candidates.  

This is a rare meeting where the two candidates will sit side-by-side, being scrutinized by an impartial audience and challenging one another’s positions. Voters have a right to be part of this.

By opening this conversation to members of the media and giving them the opportunity to share this meeting with Houston’s voters, we will be able to improve the transparency of the election.  This will help voters make an informed decision on November 5, 2013. 

Regards,

Julia Smekalina
Press Secretary
Ben Hall for Mayor

Additional information: Letter to Jeff Cohen, EVP and editor of The Houston Chronicle; Ed Board Confirmation 

Ms. Parker Desperate To Turn Her Goodbye Tour Into A Coronation

(9/3/13)

Julia Smekalina, press secretary for the Ben Hall for Mayor Campaign issued the following statement regarding Ms. Annise Parker's attempt to dictate Houston's mayoral election:

“The audacity of this career politician is astounding. Not only has Ms. Parker refused to debate all her opponents or present her vision for Houston to the voters, now she thinks she can undermine Houstonians and take away their right to a fair and transparent election.

Ms. Parker has clearly let her time in office get to her head if she thinks she has the right to dictate elections. Voters see right through her incomprehensible antics and will make sure that Ms. Parker gets a proper Goodbye Tour and not the coronation she so desperately wants.

If Ms. Parker insists on wasting everyone's time today, I recommend she at least answer some important questions Houstonians have. Such as:

(1) How did you become a millionaire while working as a public servant for 16 years?

(2) Why do Houstonians now feel less safe in their homes and neighborhoods?

(3) What is your plan to reform Houston's pension system?

(4) When do you plan on defending your record in front of Houstonians in formal, televised, and moderated debates?" 

 

ICYMI: Ben Hall's Ch. 13 Live Chat with Ted Oberg

 photo.JPG

 

Ben Hall Has Paid Two And Half Times More In Property Taxes Than Ms. Parker

Ms. Parker’s Goodbye Tour Gets Ugly With More Lies 

(8/26/13)

Julia Smekalina, press secretary for the Ben Hall for Mayor Campaign, issued the following statement regarding Ms. Annise Parker’s flailing campaign and erroneous attempts to distract voters:

“It is clear that Ms. Parker is content with making her Goodbye Tour about nothing more than lies. We have no intention of allowing her false claims and erroneous charges to go unanswered. She may think that she can say something and that makes it true, but to the contrary, voters will recognize this pattern of placing her political self-interest above the facts.

Ben Hall has paid two and a half times more in property taxes within Houston city limits than Ms. Parker. She and her staff have either failed to do their research or they are blatantly lying to voters, a consistent theme during her time in office.

Voters want a campaign about issues and ideas. Ms. Parker wants a campaign about misinformation and continuing the status quo. Each day she acts more and more like a professional politician who wants to hold on to her job at all costs, even if it means ignoring reality and the facts.

Click here for chart showing property taxes paid by both Ben Hall and Annise Parker since 2007. According to the Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector, Hall has paid two and a half times more in property taxes within Houston city limits.

 

Hall is making the mayor's race more interesting

"For the last four years, I've thought the city was not being handled as an international, world-class city. It was simply being managed," he said. "This is the center of the universe. I would love it if people, when they wake up in Abu Dhabi, or in Saudi Arabia, or in the Saharan desert, they would say, 'On my bucket list, I've got to go to Houston.' "

When I asked how Hall believes he differs politically from Parker, a fellow Democrat, he said: "I think I am a futurist. I don't think she has that skill set. For me, elemental government is balancing the budget. That's elemental. For her it seems to be an accomplishment."

Read full article

 

Ms. Parker Continues Her Goodbye Tour With More Lies

(8/21/13)

Julia Smekalina, press secretary for the Ben Hall for Mayor Campaign issued the following statement regarding Ms. Annise Parker's effort to defend her millionaire status:

“Yesterday, Ms. Parker’s campaign released a false claim that her present millionaire status is the result of inheritance gifts from her deceased grandmother.  Problem is, the facts and records of the grandmother's estate don't support that bogus excuse. The truth is this typical politician has become a millionaire by feathering her own nest while in public office.

A review of Ms. Parker’s personal financial statement shows that any inheritance benefits she received were small and were NOT included in our calculation of her $1.2 million net worth in 2012 (see 2012 PFS Part 5 and Parker Assets & Income calculation below). During her time in public office, she has become a millionaire, turning her $390,000 net worth in 1997-1998 into nearly $1.2 million by 2012. And now she is attempting to cover it up on the grave of a loved one. 

Shame on you Ms. Parker!

Ben Hall earned his money the hard way--working in the private sector.  Ms. Parker has chosen to become a millionaire when she was supposed to be handling the voters' business.  

And while we are on this subject, it is concerning that Ms. Parker failed to include the earnings/wealth of her partner, Ms. Kathy Hubbard, from her recent disclosures.  A complete picture of Ms. Parker’s net worth, money and assets, can only be learned when she releases the net worth of her partner, who contributes to their household income.” 

Parker Assets and Income - 2012*

ASSET/INCOME

VALUE

NOTES

Tax appraisal value of properties

$880,872.00

(Not actual sale value)

Rental income

$35,500.00

(Minimum—could be as high as $60K)

Stock value

$45,892.18

(Minimum--could be as high as $250K)

Current salary

$209,138.00

(Does not include pay increase)

Sale of stock

$5,000.00

(Could be as high as $10k)

Mutual Funds

$0.00 

 --

TOTAL

$1,180,902.18

 

*Note: While Ms. Parker did report the inheritance trust, valued between $500-$4,999, the $1,180,902.18 total does not include it. Source: Ben Hall Campaign document based on Parker 2012 Personal Financial Statement, available through the Houston City Secretary’s Office. 

 

Ben Hall Makes Mayoral Candidacy Official & Releases New Video

From Humble Beginnings To The Future Mayor Of Houston 

(8/20/13) 

Today, Ben Hall filed his official paperwork with the Houston city secretary for his mayoral candidacy. Hall joined supporters for a rally and released a new online video telling voters directly why this city needs a change in leadership and why he is running for mayor.

“Houston deserves the best leadership possible. For nearly thirty years, I have been in awe with this cities beauty and potential,” said mayoral candidate Ben Hall. “Unfortunately, Ms. Parker’s last two terms have been nothing but a disappointment and it is clear that she does not have the abilities necessary to lead Houston.  The All for Hall campaign is committed to bringing a brighter and better future for every Houstonian.”

In the new online video, Hall tells voters about his humble childhood in Columbia, South Carolina and his journey to a successful career in Houston over the last three decades. Hall goes on to highlight the difference between him and Ms. Parker and presents several of his policy priorities, including economic growth, an educated workforce, and crime reduction in Houston.

The full video is available here. For more information on the Ben Hall for Mayor campaign go to benhallformayor.com.

 

Houstonians Deserve Full Transparency From Mayor's Office

(8/20/13)

Julia Smekalina, press secretary for the Ben Hall for Mayor campaign issued the following statement regarding Ms. Annise Parker's release of her tax records:

“Ms. Parker tax record release is far from righteous or even accurate. In reality, her personal net worth has ballooned during her time in public office and she has become a millionaire while working on the city's dime. If Ms. Parker wants full transparency, why doesn’t she explain how her personal financial disclosure report has jumped from $390 thousand dollar in 1997-1998 to nearly $1.2 million last year? 

The real question is the economic decline of the city and the careening debt of approximately $13 billion under Ms. Parker’s watch. Those are the questions voters want answers for and she is unable to give them."

 

 

Hall Campaign Offers Mayor Parker A Vocabulary Lesson

(8/16/13)

Today, John Weaver, strategist for the Ben Hall for Mayor campaign sent a letter to Mayor Annise Parker clarifying the distinction between a debate and a forum. The tricks have gone on far too long and it is time that voters see what this Mayor is really up to: running from her record and hiding from voters. This is no way to act in an election but a perfect way to continue a Goodbye Tour. The full text of the letter is attached and below:

 

Dear Mayor Parker,

So that there is no more confusion for you and your staff, I am providing you with a very simple definition of a debate. The political games have gone far enough.

A forum is a public meeting where participants are welcomed to exchange ideas. Numerous Houston communities and groups have organized these events over the next few months and have welcomed Ben and you to speak with them.  We look forward to seeing you at these events.

A debate is a formal discussion between candidates in which opposing arguments are put forward and challenged before voters. Debates are televised, moderated, and include a discussion of all critical policies. Debates are necessary because they force candidates to address policy issues rather than avoiding them.

Why are you afraid of televised debates so all Houstonians have access?  Why the parsing of words and political gimmicks? As a professional politician, certainly this would seem to be routine for you. The “Goodbye Tour “deserves televised debates.

Again, the Ben Hall campaign challenges you to six formal, moderated and televised debates, with varying formats, over the course of the next two months in front of Houston’s voters. These debates should be broadcast on Houston’s local television stations.

In case your staff has forgotten Houston has the following local television stations: KPRC, KUHT, KHOU, KTRK, KETH, KTXH, KLTJ, KRIV, KUVM-CA, KIAH, KXLN, KTMD, KPXB, KYAZ, KTBU, KUBE, KZJL, and KFTH. As I’m sure you are aware, many of these stations have expressed interest in hosting a formal debate.

If there is any further confusion from you or your staff, please feel free to contact our campaign or the various television stations directly. We are happy to work with you and your team to organize them appropriately.

I look forward to seeing you on the campaign trail.

 

Cheers,

John Weaver, Strategist

Ben Hall for Mayor

 

Do Not Be Fooled By Ms. Parker

(8/16/13)

Forum.png

Do not be fooled by Ms. Parker's campaign. This Saturday, August 17, mayoral candidate Ben Hall will participate in a candidates forum hosted by the Baptist Ministers Association of Houston & Vicinity. See the attached invitation that each candidate received clearly identifying the event as an “information-sharing political forum.” Please respect the organizers of this event and do not be fooled by those who are claiming that this is a debate.

The Ben Hall for Mayor campaign has extended an invitation to Ms. Annise Parker to participate in six televised and moderated debates to be hosted by the local broadcast television stations. Several stations have expressed interest in organizing and hosting. The voters are asking to hear from their mayoral candidates in a setting that is easily accessible to the entire city of Houston. 

Let it be clear that the only person who is preventing this from happening is Ms. Parker. She is hiding from her record and dismissing the basic right of voters to hear from their candidates. We cannot let phony claims deceive us from this fact.

Saturday’s event is open to the public and we hope that all attendees respect the organizers and do not interfere with this community’s opportunity to hear from their candidates. 

 

Ben Hall Buzz Continues as Parker Launches Goodbye

Tour

Political Games Won’t Distract From This Mayor’s Failures (8/13/13)

Julia Smekalina, press secretary for Ben Hall, issued the following statement regarding Ms. Annise Parker’s recent negative campaign ad and comments she made during a press conference on the future of Houston’s Thanksgiving Day Parade:

"This is a typical move from a professional politician who has just launched her Goodbye Tour. With no record to support her insider funded campaign, Ms. Parker has decided to play the only card she's comfortable with: launching a negative campaign as an attempt to drag Houston's voters into a dirty fight.

I enjoyed Ms. Parker's first ad and thank her for highlighting Ben's ongoing conversation with the people of Houston. It is unfortunate that Ms. Parker refuses to talk to Ben directly and still has not accepted a single one of our offers to debate him on the issues in front of Houstonians. Despite Ms. Parker's best efforts, we will continue to discuss the important issues facing this great city.

Ben has been an active taxpayer, business leader, philanthropist and supporter of Houston's communities since arriving here 27 years ago. But the failed policies of Ms. Parker have made it abundantly clear that Houston needs a new vision for a brighter future and leadership strong enough to get us there.”

 

Proud Tradition Almost Lost Under Mayor Parker’s Watch

Houston Parade Continues Thanks To Houstonian's Dedication (8/13/13)

Ben Hall issued the following statement after Mayor Parker announced that the Houston annual Thanksgiving Day Parade will continue in 2013 thanks to the generous private donations of more than
$400,000.

“The annual Houston Thanksgiving Day Parade has brought joy to my family and millions of other Houstonians for years. The fact that we almost lost this proud tradition is yet another sign of failed leadership from Mayor Parker and the financial instability that has developed under her watch. 

A last minute solution to keep the parade alive is thanks to the dedication of Houston’s communities. All Houstonian have been forced to step up and fill the void created by the Mayor’s inaction during her time in office.”

 

Interview with Houston Defender

 

Hall helps save S.H.A.P.E Community Center

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- There are major new developments in a legal battle over a well-known community center. An unpaid debt threatened to close down the SHAPE Community Center near downtown after more than four decades. Now we're being told the situation has been resolved.

The story had a lot of twists and turns. There was an injunction against the constable's sale of the property where the community center sits and two other pieces of property the center owns. There was a court hearing that was scheduled to be held next Monday. All that has been put off now, but the situation came down to the wires. Read the full article here