Dec. 2,1983 / Montrose Voice 3
Convention Center: The Buck Stops Here
By Hollis Hood
(The following is the first of two parts giving the history of the recently passed convention center proposal and what effect it
will have on Montrose.)
Civic center convention centers, especially centers downtown, are good for business, and all the surrounding downtown
areas will profit from the building of the
new George Brown Center on the eastside.
At least that's the idea that convinced
enough people to vote for it in the recent
U.S. AIDS Budget
By Larry Bush
WASHINGTON-The Reagan Administration's posture on AIDS shifted slightly
when two new pieces of information were
made public in October. Rep. Ted Weiss
(D-N.Y.) made available documents
signed by Dr. Edward Brandt, the assistant secretary for health, showing that
health researchers and administrators
actually wanted an AIDS budget of $52
million last year, when the Reagan
Administration was willing to propose
outlays totaling only $41 million.
The information comes from a letter
from Brandt to Health and Human Services secretary Margaret Heckler, and outlines specific health programs such as
vaccine development and animal testing
that would have cost about $12 million
more than the Administration proposed.
A letter from Heckler to the Office of Management and Budget director David Stockman shows entire areas of Brandt's
proposal simply dropped from the budget.
The Centers for Disease Control is
undergoing a change at the top. Dr. William Foege is leaving as director, and Dr.
James Mason will be appointed to the job.
Mason, who once worked for the Public
Health Service's venereal disease programs, also served a stint from 1970 to
1977 as director of the Mormon Church's
health programs. The Utah-
headquartered church includes in its
health program a little-known "aversion
therapy" program to cure homosexuals.
One of the leading supporters of the center was the Gay Political Caucus, which
saw the convention project as a way to
demonstrate its political clout to the questioning non-gay populace, and it did.
At 75 percent, Montrose delivered the
highest vote percentage of any area in the
city for Proposition A, and its estimated
that some 45,000 gay voters supported it.
Local activist Lee Harrington, who coordinated efforts to solicit gay support, said,
"I want to thank the gay community for
its support of the construction of a new
downtown convention center. Our endorsement of, and bloc vote for, this project
has resulted in several significant gains:
our political clout and credibility were
enhanced citywide:—we delivered whatwe
"We have always said that we are not a
one-issue political group," Harrington
continued. "We proved that. We raised the
consciousness level of the downtown business establishment. Many of the Texas
Eastern and Cadillac Fairview corporate
hierarchies (many of these executives had
never before been in gay settings) in September, with Councilmembers Greanias,
Greenwood and Tinsley, attended a Texas
Eastern-sponsored gathering at the Four
Seasons Hotel to woo the gay vote.
"It's participants still tell me how
genuinely impressesd they were with the
people they met over dinner that night. We
made it possible for every gay man and
lesbian at Texas Eastern and Cadillac
Fairview to never again have a concern
for job security because of sexual orientation. You are to be congratulated for your
efforts once again," Harrington said.
The gay vote was important, and with
the growing importance of that vote comes
the growing importance of being responsible for who gets it—beware of corporate
executives bearing cold avocado soup.
The convention center issue, like any
facing the metropolis of Houston, is complicated and convoluted. It didn't start
with the Houston Sports Association petitions last year, nor the year before.
As early as 1978, when the economy was
outrageous in Houston, which is a town
that boasts of intelligentsia that loves to
party — therefore a natural for
conventioneers—the powers that were
decided it needed more space to attract
bigger and better audiences. But Houston
attracted everybody, therefore causing
underemployment problems, and a declining national economy caught up with the
However, the convention center still
looked attractive because it would create
"Houston needs—and is going to get—a
new convention center," flatly stated the
November 1980 issue of Houston.
Mayor Jim McConn appointed a committee to study existing facilities and
future options in the summer of 1979, with
Frank Horlock chairman. Houston was
not getting its fair share of the convention
market, and the revenue and business
stimulation it brought to the city, which
was going to its close competitors New
Orleans, San Antonio and Dallas.
The committee told the mayor and City
Council in September that they had
located a site in Houston Center and that
the new building should be a minimum of
500,000 square feet with meeting rooms
and arena facilities. The council voted for
a feasibility study of the 11-acre site of
which Cadillac Fairview, one of Houston
Center developers, offered to donate
264,000 square feet to the city with the
purchase of 106,000 square feet.
Other sites considered were the Buffalo
Bayou center between Memorial and
downtown, the Allen Parkway Village site
and the Astrodomain. Research began on
Even at that time, then councilman
Lance Lalor often opposed the project in
council meetings and later was joined by
councilman Dale Gorzynski who questioned exactly how it would be paid for.
Despite a declining convention market
in other major U.S. cities, Houston was
booming in 1981, and the Houston Convention and Visitors Council moved into
an expanded facility at 3300 Main. The
city was setting records for convention
attendance with 661 through the end of
1981, resulting in $263 million infused into
the economy, an increase over 1980 figures
of 647 conventions and revenue of $223
No doubt conventions were becoming
even bigger business than they had ever
been, and Houston's need for expanded
facilities was critical, but the where and
how for a center had to be worked out, and
clouds of opposition were already forming.
(This has been the first of two articles.
See the MONTROSE VOICE on Dec. 9 for
The Montrose Voice Annual Christmas
Party—for the staff and the READERS (that's
you) of the Montrose Voice—is Tuesday night,
Dec. 20, 8pm to 1am, at the Upper Deck of the
Officer's Club- There'll be dancing with DJ
Ram Rocha and free beer.
We'll be requesting $2 at the door for the
Media Fund for Human Rights, the non-profit
community service arm of the Gay Press Association.
— D —
No sooner does the turkey get digested from
Thankgiving, than it's time to think about
Christmas and all the partying to come. Hon,
this is a time for events that make the little ol'
head just spin! Get out them calendars and
Those of us who are young at heart or may
have kids who need entertaining this season
may want to drop by the Main Street Theater,
2540 Times Blvd. Lili. a wonderful play with
marionettes, is playing there at 1:30pm on
Saturdays and Sundays until Dec. 18 in a carnival atmosphere. It will keep the kids happy,
and the girls off the streets! Tickets are only $3
for children and adults. Discounts and/or special performance days are available to groups.
Call 524-6706 tor info or reservations.
— D —
There hasn't been this much excitement since
Andy Warhol spilled his trifles down Liza's
dress! Douglas Holt will host a champagne
party at his Lamar Tower residence on Dec. 3
Rumor has it, the place will be teaming with
celebs from all over, and to add to the suspense, the theme of his benefit has yet to be
announced! Those of you in the more hoity-
toity crowd may remember his last benefit—a
Marilyn Monroe Look-Alike contest at Anna-
belles, which benefitted foster children.
Doug's parties are all for good causes. Even
Marvin Zindler approves!
— D —
For those who think of the Women's Lobby
Alliance in terms ot Carrie Nation, swinging
her hatchet at every suspicious-looking man,
there is now a wonderful opportunity to prove
you wrong. The Women's Lobby Alliance is
celebrating it's third birthdav with a big to-do
on Monday, Dec. 5 at the Houston Area
Women's Center, 4 Chelsea Place—6:30 'til
8:30. There will be entertainment, beer and
wine, hors d'oeuvres and birthday cake. A suggested donation of $10 will be appreciated at
the door Call 521-0439 for info.
— D —
It's happening whether we like it or not! Books
are being published about (gasp!) gay people,
and the public is even buying them! Oh well,
this is the latter part of the 20th century ... and
for those who are familiar with the finer products of the gay press, Pete Fisher is a welcome guest, Fisher, who has written three
books of interest to gay readers, will be the
guest at a reception in his honor at Wilde &
Stein Books, 802 Westheimer. Saturday, Dec.
3 (THIS Saturday!)from 4 to 5:30pm,
His latest book, Dreamlovers, is a wild and
sexy novel (can you imagine a gay book without sex?) about one man's quest to turn his
fantasy lovers into realities, despite a lover, his
career and uncomprehending friends. Gee, do
you think any of us may have something in
common with the subject matter of this particular book? The reception is free and open to
the public, THAT'S US!
Those who live in Montrose and have not
bothered to frequent the University of St. Thomas' campus have not truly discovered the
joys of living in Montrose. It is certainly one of
those places where the city becomes a REAL
city, and the Department of Music at St. Thomas is putting on a Festival Concert, featuring
the UST Singers and Chamber Singers. Come
on, y'all! It's Christmas, and St Thomas is so
close, and the music is so good, and you'll feel
so great, and who knows ,, maybe you'll meet
someone or even learn something!
The concert starts at 8pm on Mon., Dec. 5. at
UST's Cullen Hall, 4001 Mt, Vernon, Admission is free Call 522-7911, ext. 240, for info.
Enjoy culture at your very doorstep!
— d —
It's that time again! We can all start holding
continued on next page