This morning, the Matt Murphy for Houston crew continued to assist with flood disaster relief efforts. Acting upon the values of community service central to our campaign, we joined over 30 representatives from dozens of groups and organizations at the City of Houston Housing and Community Development Department building. We are humbled to work with these servant leaders who have put their regular activities on hold and selflessly devoted time, efforts and resources to helping local flood victims.
With the connections made this past week, the Matt Murphy campaign will continue to enable our fellow volunteers to better communicate, coordinate and act effectively when assisting our friends and neighbors. With this morning’s meeting, the community of volunteer leaders involved in cleanup and assistance efforts are now better connected to partner with each other and other experts supporting this relief effort.
As the nature of flood victims’ needs change, our campaign’s efforts will adapt and respond. We will continue to recruit, mobilize and coordinate volunteers. We now ask our network to continue cleanup efforts - with a focus on assisting the elderly, disabled, and those with psychological and mental health needs. In addition, we are recruiting neighborhood volunteers from outside the disaster area to ensure the safety of homeowners and property. We will also work to assess the needs of every affected household and we ask volunteers to help us go door to door.
If we act now, our actions can continue to have an impact. Please ask your local grassroots, civic and community groups to get active in the relief effort.
This evening (Mon June 1st), I urge our fellow volunteers and activists to learn about the resources available and send representatives to two meetings: one by FEMA at 7:00pm, at the Jewish Community Center (5603 South Braeswood) and another at 7:30pm at the Westbury Methodist Church (5200 Willowbend Blvd).
Again, we also ask our like-minded friends and neighbors to join in our efforts to unite our communities in this time of tragedy to make Houston an even better place.
If you’re able to volunteer, please email our campaign (firstname.lastname@example.org), or call our campaign number (832-821-5520).
Thank you for your efforts!
Volunteer To Help Flood Victims
Host: Matt Murphy For City Council
Place: Godwin Park (Next To Kolter Elementary)
5101 Rutherglen Dr
Houston TX 77096
RSVP Phone: 832-821-5520 or Text "HelpNeighbors" to 97000
Please join Matt Murphy for City Council volunteers as we help our neighbors recover from Houston's tragic flooding. This Saturday, we will meet at Godwin Park at 10AM (Next to Kolter Elementary), and disperse to the houses that need assistance throughout the whole city. Please come with your tools (hammers, crowbars, utility knives, etc.). The campaign will provide t-shirts, safety glasses, gloves.
Please come ready to work hard tearing up carpets, moving out damaged furniture, etc. After our work is done, the Matt Murphy For Houston campaign will host a cookout at Godwin Park for all volunteers at 6:30PM. The campaign will provide refreshments and condiments, but we ask if people can bring hot dogs, hamburgers, buns, etc. that we can serve the volunteer community. We will have one grill, but if you feel inclined to bring yours, we would greatly appreciate it.
In times of need such as these, it's crucial that Houston neighbors come together to aid one another. Moments like this are difficult, but they are also an opportunity for us to foster more unity and strength among our communities. Thanks for your participation!
Speech Given By Matt Murphy- Candidate for Houston City Council At Large Position 4
May 19, 2015
Location: Houston Club, Houston, TX
“Passion has helped us; but can do so no more. It will in future be our enemy.” (Lincoln, 1838) Abraham Lincoln spoke this line in 1838 during his Lyceum Address in Springfield, MO. He was addressing how mobs or people who disrespected American laws and courts could destroy the United States.
For over a decade, we as Houstonians have neglected our core values, responsibilities, and principles that our great city was built upon. Poor political leadership and implementation of social issues have forced us to take sides against each other. This is a major problem that few are willing to address, and it is tearing Houston apart. This crisis demands a new perspective and approach to come up with viable solutions that mends the city back together.
I am humbled by the testimonies of those that came before me about my tract record of identifying problems, and I am committed to the hard work hard towards solving the issues before our city. I seek your help to address this crisis by walking with me during this campaign to provide a clearer definition of responsibility, accountability and community.
We should be motivated by our next generation to live up to our responsibility as political leaders and constituents so we don’t leave children like my son cleaning up our mess. Our main responsibility is to make our city pensions sustainable. According to the city budget, approximately 20% of our city revenues go to paying pension and the reason we are in this crisis (Cross, 2013). Starting in 2016, we will have a $142 million gap between expected annual revenues and expenses. (Morris, 2014) Ignoring this crisis consumes our time and eliminates us from focusing on other major issues such as our aging infrastructure and drainage. An attempt to provide an additional source of revenue has proven to be inadequate. The process is easily broken because personal agendas and politics that rob the “lock box” of any funds designated to go to our streets and drainage.
To put it in simple and hypothetical terms: If I commit to owe you $100 a day for the rest of your life, but I only make $10 a day; there is only one failed path. Either you only get $10 a day, or borrow $90 to keep my promise until the credit is maxed out. Eventually I will go bankrupt, our deal is lost, and my house is falling down from neglect.
We must put a stop to this madness and call it what it is; a crisis! First, we must lobby to the state to provide us local control over pensions. Next we establish a platform to work with the unions to come up with a solution that keeps the promise of our current deal, but reforms the deal for our future police, fire, and municipal workers. Finally we must be fiscally responsible with our current budgetary spending to make sure we don’t continue to kick the can down the road and get in this mess ever again. It is a commitment I will make as a council member, but I will need your help to make sure we are working together in a grassroots effort towards accountability.
As a political outsider looking in, let me be frank: Accountably is something that career politicians are trained to avoid. We need to stop enabling career politicians by not keeping them accountable. Politicians are supposed to be accountable to the majority of voters, but less than 20% of voters actually vote. This leaves a career politician with free reign to push their own social agenda and cronyism without any repercussions. This must stop, and we need to make an effort to educate more people through a grassroots effort on how important their voice matters, not only to voting, but also to the public process.
We need to install a sense of civic duty in our neighbors and children just like my parents did for me. I have learned by my own mistakes, that if you don’t vote, then you don’t matter, but we are responsible for the candidates that represent us. Let’s refocus our attention to municipal elections instead of the top down approach are so used to seeing because it is not working. We can develop talent through a grassroots effort to eventually take over higher offices such as state and federal legislature, Governor, and even President. In order for us to identify potential leaders in our communities that believe in governing for the people and protecting our constitutional rights, we must focus on building up our communities.
Our communities are the core of our strength as a city, but we have allowed several factors diminish that over time. We can start right now by getting to know our neighbors better. According to the Pew Research Center study only 19% of all people know the neighbors that live next to them (Pew Research Center, 2010). Yet, we are hungry for community and achieve it by segmenting ourselves into our social circles, religious organizations, political circles, or worse, through the illusion of friendship on social media sites.
My core values have taught me to “Love Thy Neighbor” regardless of who they are. No better example of how it was applied through the relationship with my elderly neighbor three houses down: Nadine Singleton.
When I first purchased a fixer upper home in Riverside Terrace, Ms. Nadine walked down the street from her house three doors down to find out what was going on. She came up to me and said, “Who are you, and what are you doing here?” I explained to her that I had just purchased our home and was fixing it up to live in it. She opened up her arms and said, “Welcome to the neighborhood!”
Over the next few months during the renovation process, Ms. Nadine and I got to know each other very well. We established a trust between each other enough for her to knock on my door one day because she was concerned about her great grandson that was living with her. He came home with a poor progress report, and she did not know what to do. Keiland’s mother was working two jobs and was not home to help with his homework, and she was too old to keep up with him. I told her to send him down to the house and I would try to talk some sense into him. That day I worked Keiland hard around the house cleaning up leaves in flowerbeds, picking up trash, etc. Eventually, he had tears in his eyes. When I asked him what he was crying about, Keiland replied, “This is hard!” I responded by saying, “Well get use to it, because this is what you will do the rest of your life unless you get your grades up.”
As soon as I said that, Keiland realized that not only was his great grandmother and his mother’s eyes were on him, now his neighbor’s were watching after him too.
Unfortunately I lost my friend and neighbor earlier this year but Ms. Nadine left a legacy in me and her great grandson is on his way to being the first in his family to go to college. Mrs. Nadine, my neighbors, my family, and you are the reason that chose to run for city council even though I am a political outsider
I now want to ask the campaign staff to come stand with me, I ask you to stand together with us as one strong grassroots effort to provide a clearer definition of responsibility, accountability, community.
I don’t have all the solutions. What I have is the proven tract record and dedication to finding solutions through identifying the problem, analyzing both sides of the issue, and creating a process to deal with the source of the problem instead of the surface. In other words, I want create a process to fix the streets and not just the potholes.
There is no “I” in team, but there is one in unity! It will take your individual effort of standing with me during this campaign season. In the back you can schedule a time where we can walk together in your neighborhood so we can know and encourage your neighbors to vote in this crucial election. I ask you to support our efforts monetarily in efforts to provide a stronger community through this process. Finally, keep me accountable in regards to the responsibility I am willing to take on as a city council member.
Let’s Replace Passion with Compassion For Sake of This Great City and Restore Faith, Hope, And Vision Back To Houston. I am “All In” and you have my commitment that I will be there and work harder than anyone else, but without your support we can’t win; with your support we can’t lose.
Cross, R. (2013, July 15). How Sustainable are Houston’s Pensions? Retrieved May 19, 2015, from Inside Policy & Politics: http://blog.chron.com/insidepolicy/2013/07/how-sustainable-are-houstons-pensions/
Lincoln, A. (1838, January 27). Lyceum Address. Retrieved May 19, 2015, from Abraham Lincoln Online: http://www.abrahamlincolnonline.org/lincoln/speeches/lyceum.htm
Morris, M. (2014, May 27). Houston's budget picture growing bleak. Retrieved May 19, 2015, from Houston Chronical: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Houston-s-budget-picture-growing-bleak-5508205.php
Pew Research Center. (2010, June 10). Do You Know Your Neighbors? Retrieved May 19, 2015, from Pew Research: http://www.pewresearch.org/daily-number/do-you-know-your-neighbors/
(Houston, TX)– Jack O’Connor, businessman, former manufacturing industry executive, and runner-up in 2011 Houston mayoral election decided to get more active in the 2015 city elections by joining the Matt Murphy For Houston City Council At Large Position 4 campaign as treasurer. O’Connor’s interest in the importance of being a politically active citizen was fostered at a young age when, as a young teen in 1964, he campaigned for Barry Goldwater and later Ronald Reagan for President because of Reagan’s ability to lead in tough times. In 2010, Jack ran for the Texas State House in a campaign that promoted fiscal accountability, true education reform and reduced government before his mayoral campaign in 2011.
“Through many city administrations, I have followed Houston politics and government closely, so I have a good idea of what kind of leadership we need on city council”, O’Connor said. “The city government has squandered its resources and opportunities to bring more strength and certainty to the city’s financial wellbeing. Our city is in a unique situation that needs a unique approach from a unique candidate. I feel that Matt Murphy can really make a difference because he has proven to be able to unify and lead communities in very unique and creative ways.”
The campaign’s grassroots focus on practical solutions when it comes to infrastructure, middle class job creation and building up stronger neighborhoods through the “Know Your Neighbor” initiative has really gained momentum since Murphy announced on April 8 at Allen’s Landing, the birthplace of Houston nearly 180 years ago. To view video of announcement go to www.mattmurphyforhouston.com.
Murphy has over 20 years of experience in civic engagement through his service in the U.S. Navy, being founder and chairman of the Midway Hallow Neighborhood Association, creator of the Shawn’s Anomaly Awareness Campaign with Texas Children’s Hospital, and creating 6-time awarding winning short film, Last Seat At The Dome, that has helped in the efforts to preserve the Astrodome.
"We are honored to have Jack O’Connor’s support as campaign treasurer. He wants to restore the vision of prosperity in Houston just as much as I do, so I am glad to see that he has joined a great team that has plans do just that," said Murphy.
On April 9, 2015, the Astrodome turned 50 and Harris County threw a massive party that attracted nearly 25,000 people. It was a beautiful site to be taken in by my son, Shawn, and I.
In 2013 when I made my first ever short film about the Astrodome called, Last Seat At The Dome, I honestly had no idea what it would become and how it would help with the efforts to preserve the dome. What resonated most about the film was the facts that we were able to present, and still to this day the greatest compliment I receive is when someone tells me that just by watching the film they have changed their mind about preserving the dome.
The facts alone will save the Astrodome, so in honor of the Dome's birthday, I decided to rebroadcast in entirety the film screening and Q&A with Judge Ed Emmett, Beth Wiedower, David Bush, and Michael Garfield that we had in November 2014. I hope you enjoy:
As your council member for at-large position 4, preserving the Astrodome and repurposing it into a public park will be one of my priorities. We need members of Houston city council that are willing to partner with Harris County officials to find a viable solution that preserves the iconic landmark and enhances the other venues, city, and surrounding community that needs revitalization. Of course, all of this has to be done without putting the burden on the taxpayer. There is a way, and I will champion that way!
Last Seat At The Dome
My wife and I, in 2007, embarked an adventure that, I am happy to say, is still a work in process. We had just moved from Jacksonville, FL to Houston. We felt we were moving to Houston for reasons other than being closer to our families, the Astros, and good Mexican food.
Before Jacksonville, we had lived and owned a home in Dallas. Unfortunately, the landlocked Big-D did not cater to our fun-n-sun lifestyle, so we sold our home in 2003 and moved across the country to where we had dreams of living on the beach and being tan all the time.
However, we did not study enough on how the economy was changing. The home that we had just sold for just fewer than 200K in Dallas would now nearly worth 500K in Jacksonville and over a million close to the beach. Apparently, we were not the only people who enjoyed the fun-n-sun lifestyle. Even the condemned homes in Jacksonville that we would fix up would cost about the same as our completely renovated home in Dallas and the only things that were affordable was in the condominium market. However, that market has crashed; I am glad that we decided not to buy one. Since we had some debt from our Dallas renovation and move, not being able to afford a home was just one of many doors that closed in Jacksonville.
On the other hand, Houston was a little less greedy with our pocketbook. While we were in Jacksonville, we started looking online at potential homes that we could purchase near downtown. We could not believe the affordability of some of those homes, and so we decided we would find a broken down home and fix it up in an "up and coming" urban neighborhood near downtown.
We looked at several urban neighborhoods “inside the loop” but several things kept moving us toward Riverside Terrace. It was near where Rachel was going to work at M.D. Anderson Hospital. The architecture in the neighborhood was beautiful and it was not your typical cookie cutter neighborhood. You know the ones you see in the suburbs. The ones where you risk pulling into a neighbor’s driveway because it looks just like yours.
We immediately started to search for a real estate agent that could help us locate the right house in the Riverside Terrace. We also spoke with all of our friends and told them that we were living in Houston and about the area; we were looking to move to. The realtors and our friends all had the same initial reaction...Shock. They would pause for a very uncomfortable time, and then say, “Are you sure?”
One friend, who is brutally honest, told us that we were idiots for even considering that area. We took their advice with a grain of salt and kept our rose-colored glasses on and as soon as we found a real estate agent, we called her and asked her about the neighborhood. The real estate agent, who was a nice woman in her mid-20s, was careful with her words from the start so she would not get into some perceived trouble. In an effort to save time and be more, productive we decided to look at a few options, since we were there a day early. Our goal was to cut some homes to save time later. Rachel and I were excited. We started looking at houses online and started to look at home improvement books for ideas of how to remodel our future dream home.
As soon as we pulled into Riverside Terrace, we realized why our friends and realtors were acting weird when we would tell them we were looking to live there, but not as weird as the looks that we were getting from what might be our potential neighbors.
Rachel and I are what you would call the epitome of a white couple and this neighborhood was a black neighborhood, so we stuck out like a sore thumb while we drove slowly in our rental car, which happened to also be white, looking at vacant homes for sale.
I started to get a serious sense of fear in my stomach while we drove around. I looked at my wife and you could tell she was scared as well. We probably were more concerned with the look at that point than the houses.
Now do not get me wrong, we did not have problems with living there because of our color. After all, when we moved into our home in Dallas, it was pretty much a total Hispanic neighborhood. Moreover, I must say was one of the greatest experiences we had in our lives, living there. We were just afraid that we were not going to be accepted in this neighborhood.
We started to talk about it. We decided, for the most part, that all of the research that we had put to looking for homes in Riverside Terrace was now a waste, because we just felt too much like an outsider in this neighborhood.
Every time we would drive by a house, Rachel or I would find some sort of flaw in it to disqualify it from the list until we finally ran out of houses to look at, even though something in my heart was at peace because of this neighborhood. I just did not understand what gave me this peace.
We met up with our real estate agent and told her that we drove through the neighborhood before we came to the appointment. She stopped organizing her papers and looked at us with a blank stare. She asked us what we thought of it. Rachel and I both told her that we loved the houses, but we were afraid we were going to stick out like a sore “white” thumb. She kind of laughed and said that she felt we might say that. We immediately started searching in an alternate neighborhood for options. We left Houston that weekend so defeated and upset. We had hoped that this neighborhood was where our next home would be. God had kept closing doors on all of the homes that we liked in the alternate neighborhood because it was just a little expensive for our dreams of becoming the next do it yourself couple on HGTV, or people would offer on the homes before we could get our offer in.
For some reason, I kept feeling God still leading me to Riverside Terrace, so I tried to be obedient as possible and went into prayer about it. Rachel and I decided not to purchase a house in Houston yet, and we would rent an apartment near her new job.
In the meantime, I was not working, I decided to spend my time trying to find a home in the area and a creative way to finance it since anything we were to buy was going to need a lot of remodeling. I worked with the Real estate agent and explained that my heart was in that neighborhood and I still wanted to look in that area. She was very helpful and our first weekend we moved to Houston, we decided to tour some of the interiors of the homes in Riverside Terrace. We knew we had a big day ahead of us since we were planning to look at about 10 homes in Riverside Terrace. Amazing enough the last house had the most potential. Ironically, it was on Prospect Street. That is a sign if you ask me.
When we pulled up to the house, you could barely see the home because several types of ivy, including the poison kind, were growing on the house. When I saw the picture on the Internet, I did not want to visit this house. It looked like too much of a project for my expertise. We walked in and immediately fell in love with the layout and knew that we did not want to change anything.
Okay, that was a joke. The whole floor plan would eventually need to change except the original position of the kitchen and living room, every other room was to be relocated and/or created but it had a lot of potential. Even our real estate agent felt the same way about the house as we did. We were planning on opening up walls, creating closets, master suites, extra bathrooms, and a family room. This was not a project for your typical do it yourself job. This was going to take someone on the job full-time being project and construction manager. This was way beyond the weekend warrior!
I decided to take some time from working and manage the project. What I did not know at the time was that was God's way of letting me get to know my neighbors, both good and bad. I met the drug pusher who lived down the street with his aging mom who was a widow. I met the niece/caretaker of her aunt/widow next door, the judge’s widow, our other next-door neighbor the widow, the crack addict that lived with a widow that walked by every day and said she was going to help me when she had time but of course, never did, and most of all, Mrs. Nadine. Yes, she was a widow. The one thing that was common among all of them other than they their membership to the late husband’s club was they were all interested in what I was doing.
They had seen that home become so neglected over time and they were wondering what my plans were for it. When I told them that my wife and I were planning to live there after I finished, they were all so receptive and were willing to lend any help they could provide. Just think, all of these people, mostly widows and drug addicts would help me! I was overcome by the spirit of community that was before me.
One of my next door neighbors would not let me put a temporary utility pole up while I was working on the house. She told me that she had plenty of electricity and water for both houses. I used her utilities for 7 months. I always felt that I was taking advantage of her hospitality, but she would just smile at me and say, that is what neighbors are for. I could not believe how well my neighbors treated me.
Mrs. Nadine has become my closest neighborhood friend. She is a young 83-year-old widow that lives two houses down from us. Her granddaughter and great-grandson were also living in her house as well. One day she walked down to talk to introduce herself in her unique way. She would come up to people and say, "Who are you?" So I introduced myself to her and what I was doing. She asked me what I planned on doing with the house and I told her that I planned on moving in it. She was shocked that I would consider living there considering I was white. She explained that when she was younger, her and her husband moved into the neighborhood, and they were the first black family to move into a predominate white Jewish neighborhood. They were always looked at as outsiders among their neighbors until most of them finally moved away in the late 50s to another part of town during “white flight” and left most of the homes around her vacant until other black families moved in. We were the first, other than black, family that she had ever seen who considered moving into the neighborhood, and we immediately became friends based on our common pioneer spirit.
Mrs. Nadine is also not afraid to speak her mind, but she always does it with a smile and a sense of guilt if she lets a curse word slip. She is always telling Rachel that she needs to keep an eye on me, because she is going to steal me away from her one day. I do not think Rachel is worried about an 83 you old widow though. I think Rachel can take her. One time when the neighbor across the street called Mrs. Nadine and said that she did not want us living there because we were white and it was a black neighborhood. Mrs. Nadine jumped all over her and told her that she would rather have us there than her. That surprised me since they have been neighbors for 30+ years. She has truly shown me her authenticity. When I pull up either her or her great grandson would come down to talk or help. Sometimes, Rachel and I felt we could not get any work done because we have to stop and talk.
One day, we saw Mrs. Nadine coming down and I sighed because I had so much I had to do that day. Even so, I just smiled and waved her over. Instead of seeing her typical smile, her face was filled with concern. I immediately asked her what was wrong with her. She handed me a letter that was explaining her insurance was going up on her home. She knew that she would not be able to afford it on her late husband’s pension and asked if I could help her understand why it was going up. As I read the article I realized that they were trying to sell her some supplemental insurance that she really did not need. I explained to her what it was and helped her fill out the proper paperwork to deny the coverage. After we finished the paperwork, she started to cry. I was so confused because I thought I had just given her good news. She looked up at me with her tearful eyes and said, "You are so good to me, and an answer to my prayers. Days before I met you, I prayed that God would bring a friend in my life that could help me understand things. I just not know that it would be a white family. What a crazy Lord!"
I am so glad that Rachel and I decided to move to Riverside Terrace. We are truly blessed to have the best neighbors and now the perfect home. I try every day to repay my neighbors for the generosity they gave to us while we were renovating. I know mow my neighbor’s yard that helped me with the utilities, and have become the Bob Villa for any minor repairs that any of my neighbors need help with.
Mrs. Nadine's grandson walks with us around the neighborhood for exercise and it gives me time to fill the father figure in his life. That is a special time. When I come home on trash day, my trashcan miraculously is moved from the street to the back of our house. We have a sense of true community.
After I finished the home and we moved in, we struggled to say afloat financially. The real estate market was changing and it was hard for us to get a traditional loan, so I decided to look for a real job. You know, God, in His Grace, have shown us a lot of favor and uses our house for His ministry in ways we never could have imagined.
We currently house a ministry student, and host our church small group every week. I finally found a great position with a national fire protection company. When they offered me the job, they had a condition that I would temporarily move to Denver for four-month training at the corporate office. Even though I knew it would be hard to be separated from my wife, I did not hesitate to accept the position. I knew that my neighbors would look after Rachel while I was gone and her safety was not an issue. I do not think I would have felt the same way if I would not have moved into that neighborhood and moved to "the burbs". I cannot wait to get back to Riverside Terrace and be a witness to God's plan. God has given Riverside Terrace “Endless Prospects.”