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Volume 68, Isuue 80, Thursday, January 23, 2003


Citizens pitch peace petition to City

By Ellen Simonson
Contributing Writer

Members of the Houston community urged city leaders to consider a proposed resolution expressing opposition to war in Iraq at a crowded Houston City Council meeting Wednesday.

The document, as well as a petition containing more than 2,100 signatures from Houston-area residents, was presented by members of the Houston Coalition for Justice Not War. 

Council members were divided in their reactions to the request. Councilmember Michael Berry said the proposed resolution exceeded the council's authority. 

"I'm speaking to the point whether we should be advising the White House or Congress," Berry said.

Councilmember Bruce Tatro expressed a similar viewpoint. "Weighing in on state and federal issues draws (the council) away from doing what the voters elected us to do," Tatro said.

However, Councilmember Carol Alvarado pointed out that the council had accepted draft resolutions with national implications in the past. Mayor Lee P. Brown agreed and said he would review the resolution.

Councilmember Ada Edwards expressed her support for consideration of the proposal as well, saying there are times "when silence is betrayal."

Citizens who voiced their support for the resolution included, among others, former gubernatorial candidate Sissy Farenthold; Hannah Hawk, a spokesperson for the Houston chapter of the Muslim Public Affairs Council; Stan Merriman, chair of the Progressive and Populist Caucus of the Texas Democratic Party; Diane Bulanowski, of the Texas Coalition for Justice Not War; and high school student Chris Hernandez.

Farenthold and Berry sparred briefly during Farenthold's presentation of the draft resolution to the council. Farenthold said she made her plea for peace in alliance "with the 43 other cities that have adopted this resolution."

"And I'll try to make sure it's not 44," Berry replied.

Similar resolutions have been passed in 43 cities across the nation, including Detroit, Mich., Chicago, Ill., Baltimore, Md., Washington, D.C., and Boulder, Colo.

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