It just ain't easy being a hip and trendy preacher these days.
Chris Seay, head of Houston's Ecclesia Church, is once again roiling the neighborhood. Awhile back, it was the elderly and conservative congregation of West End Baptist (see Hair Balls, June 30, 2005); now it's Montrose that's up in arms.
Residents around the Ecclesia facility (near Taft and Fairview) have been furiously e-mailing, meeting and organizing to fight against a rumored "gay recovery" facility for male hustlers that Ecclesia is alleged to be planning.
"People are amazingly up in arms about this," resident Joe Vodvarka says.
Ecclesia is expanding and will give some space to a church group called Emmaus. Links on Emmaus's home page go to gay-recovery programs.
Seay, however, says the Houston branch of the Emmaus group has recently broken off from the chapter with that home page. "I have gone to the Houston group and asked them specifically, after all these rumors started, 'Are you doing any gay-recovery programs?' and they said no...We [Ecclesia] are definitely not starting any gay-recovery programs. We hate that stuff."
(Then again, Seay once told Mother Jones magazine that, while he condemns homosexuality, "It is no different than sleeping around or chronic masturbation." In fact, it's no fun being gay without sleeping around and chronic masturbation, he somehow didn't go on to say.)
The new facility will offer room for Emmaus to "get men hustling off the streets," he says, but it is not a halfway house. Visitors will only stay briefly, he says.
Seay has been meeting with residents, but not everyone has been mollified. The break between Emmaus in Houston and the main group only happened, they say, after rumors began circulating.
"I find that highly suspect," Vodvarka says.
Contributing to the hard feelings on the messageboards is the fact that Ecclesia holds itself out as being different from establishment churches.
"It's not like they are First Baptist — love 'em or hate 'em, you know exactly WHAT they are and why they would be in the neighborhood," wrote one resident. "This...this seems dishonest and creepy."
Seay is still holding out hope things will settle down.
"It's fascinating how rumors can work on e-mail," he says. "A gay-recovery program is the last thing we want anyone believing we're doing."
Texas Observer recently took a look at the Houston Police Department's method of handling family-violence calls and came away decidedly unimpressed.
HPD officers, TO said, are not required — as officers in other agencies often are — to seek arrest warrants for alleged abusers who have fled the scene. Instead they just tell the victims to, essentially, be careful out there.
HPD Chief Harold Hurtt, who loudly proclaims domestic violence to be a priority, wouldn't talk with TO or with us, and the office of Mayor White — another loud proclaimer of the priority of fighting domestic violence — referred us to HPD.
Spokesman Bruce Williams, a 25-year vet of the force, says there's no need to require officers to seek warrants because officers will do it if the situation warrants.
"It's not possible to write common sense into policy for every decision an officer makes," he says.
And if statistics show that HPD issues such warrants far less often than, say, the Harris County Sheriff's Department?
"Statistics can be very, very unreliable," Williams says. "There are a lot of variables, especially if you are just comparing us to one other agency."
HPD, of course, is fighting an officer shortage, and Williams says the department "would love to have more people" working on domestic-violence cases.
But until that's solved, domestic-violence victims, you'll just have to feel safe trusting in the common sense of HPD officers. The ones who eventually show up, that is.
You've served in Congress, you're outraising your primary opponent by a large margin and you can't get no love — what's a DraculaCunt to do?
Shelley Sekula Gibbs — who will be forever known in some Internet circles as DraculaCunt after officials deemed that name was acceptable as a write-in vote for her — is still paying the price for her (very) brief Congressional stint.
Her time in office as a U.S. Rep could be measured in weeks, but resulted in entertaining battles with staffers and colleagues. Now, in a runoff for a full term against Navy vet Peter Olson, those colleagues are turning on her.
A dozen GOP House members from Texas have sent out a letter endorsing Olson.
Sekula Gibbs countered with a statement saying the endorsements were proof Olson, a former Congressional staffer, was "a Washington insider."
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Still, that's gotta hurt.
At least this time around she doesn't have to worry about any embarrassing write-in nicknames.
Borris, We Hardly Knew Ye
State Rep. Borris Miles was defeated in his attempt to win a second term in the Legislature, but he is leaving behind a marvelous legacy. A legacy which includes two gun-toting incidents, an alleged forced kiss on a woman and an overall fun approach to elective office. It is a legacy that is up there with the greats.