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Keep Houston Press Free
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The Non-Sexy Part of Edwards' Houston Visit

We've already dealt with the less seemly, more trashy (and more entertaining!) aspect of John Edwards' visit to Houston today.

What was the serious, wonky, earnest (and boring!) stuff he was really here for?

Housing. Helping the poor. Saying he was "a megaphone" for low-income Americans, Edwards took part in a roundtable discussion with local leaders.

Last week, George W. Bush said Houston and Dallas were exempt from the housing collapse. (Mainly because Bush was a) in a mansion in River Oaks at the time; and b) trying to buy a mansion in Dallas.)

Edwards disagreed.

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"The foreclosure crisis is a huge issue here in Texas and particularly in Houston," he said. "And some of the ideas that you’ve heard about today – and they’re not my ideas, they’re local ideas – about moratoriums that allow people time to work with the lenders if they get in trouble, counseling particularly on some of these exotic loans … those are the kind of ideas that I think work."

Edwards listened as local leaders – former Mayor Pro Tem Gordan Quan, City of Houston Controller Annise Parker, Justice for Janitors leader Mary Garza and Texas ACORN president Toni McElroy, to name a few – discussed initiatives that ranged from mortgage regulation to investment programs for the parents of future college students. He said such efforts are a fundamental part of his “Half in Ten” campaign to cut poverty in this country by 50 percent within a decade.

Edwards’ mission is laudable. The question is whether Half in Ten is another Center for Promise and Opportunity – a career-advancing tool that leaned closer to expedient than altruistic.

-- Blake Whitaker

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