Archive for March, 2009

What Action Should The Grand Jury Take?
March 30, 2009

The grand jury investigating the shooting of an unarmed man by a Bellaire police officer, will decide whether to indict the officer or clear him of any wrongdoing.

What action do you think the grand jury should take?

Meanwhile,  Tolan family attorney   Geoffrey Berg  confirmed today that a civil lawsuit will be filed soon on behalf of his clients.

Berg did not want to elaborate, but one would have to assume that the civil case would target the city of Bellaire and Sgt. Jeffery Cotton.

An alleged violation of   Tolan’s civil rights at the hands of   Sgt. Cotton?   The City of  Bellaire and and its police department allegedly  engaging in a pattern of racial profiling? 

But, that’s just a hunch.  I’m a reporter not an attorney. 

I’ll let you know the moment the civil suit is filed, and what monetary award the Tolan’s are seeking.

When A Sports Star Walks Into the Newsroom
March 29, 2009

He’s 7’2″, 260 pounds ,  looks really good in a suit and is nice enough to pose for pictures with pesky news people.  That’s what I can tell you about my experience meeting Houston Rockets Forward Dikembe Mutombo.

Mary Benton and Dikembe Mutombo

The sports star, nicknamed “DEKE”  walked into the KPRC-TV Channel 2 newsroom Sunday night.

He stopped by for a segment on Sports Sunday withChannel 2 sports Director Randy McIlvoy and sports producer Adam Clanton.



Before getting down to  business, Mutombo posed for pictures with the staff,  and took a  few minutes to show weekend news producer Erica Young how to use her I-phone so she could take a picture of  him.


In addition to being a great basketball player,  Mutombo is also a humanitarian.  Through his foundation  he has raised millions to improve the health, education  and quality of  life for his homeland.
Anyway, posing for pictures and talking about the Rockets playoff  hopes  must have made Mutombo really hungry.  
Sports Photographer Allen Reid and Dikembe Mutombo

On the way out of Channel 2 he asked if he could take a slice of   pizza that the weekend staff ordered for dinner. 

 Sports Photographer Allen (don’t ask for autographs)Reid was looking for any leftovers!

Protestors & Prayers vs. Planned Parenthood
March 27, 2009

As 2 on the Beat reported earlier, Planned Parenthood Federation of  America  will present U.S. Secretary of   State Hillary Clinton with its  highest honor tonight, the Margaret Sanger Award.

This is the first time in nearly four decades that the  group is holding its national conference in Houston. 


National president Cecil Richards and Houston president Peter Durkin say they want to keep the focus on women’s health care rights and not engage in political controversy.

Meanwhile outside on the sidewalk, The Texas Pastor Council and the Houston Coalition for Life  plan to hold a prayer vigil.

The group is protesting a new planned parenthood facility that’s under construction in Houston, which it claims will make the city a “major abortion hub for the southern part of the United States and South America.”

Saying Goodbye to the News Boss
March 27, 2009

Every once in a while, someone joins the Channel 2 news team, and their presence leaves a lasting impression on the staff.


For the past two and a half years, that person has been our  news director Skip Valet.

Skip is leaving Channel 2 to return to WKMG, our sister station in Orlando. 

Before coming to KPRC,  Skip was the news director at the Post-Newsweek station there, but he’s returning to Orlando as the general manager.

(Think of that as the difference between managing the men’s department at the Macy’s Galleria, or managing the ENTIRE store in Orlando)

On Thursday night, the staff  gathered for the first of two going away parties for Skip.  Senior reporter Phil Archer gave the boss a true Texas  cowboy hat as a goodbye  gift.


The rest of us showed up empty handed, but offered hugs,  handshakes and  admitted feeling a little bit of   heartache to see him go.

Those attending the goodbye party included:  General Manager Larry Blackerby, Assistant News Director Rick McFarland, investigative reporters Amy Davis and Robert Arnold, reporters Alana Gomez Dong and Phil Archer, Meteorologist Jonathan Novack and Khambrel Marshall, and a host of other managers, producers, photographers and Skip’s assistant Elizabeth.

Channel 2 employees are really proud of our boss for getting this big promotion, but he will be missed.


Gene Locke Looks to His Past to Guide His Future
March 26, 2009

A small crowd of  enthusiastic  supporters showed  up to cheer on Houston Attorney Gene Locke as he officially declared his candidacy for the office of Mayor in the city of Houston. gene-locke-003gene-locke-004

Locke is not a household name, but many people know him as a former UH student activist,  brilliant former city attorney and current power player who has put together big financial deals that led  to Reliant Park and Minute Maid Park.


Next month, Locke plans to return to his roots when he hosts a huge rally at Union Station.

He told supporters that is a special place for him. 

 When he arrived by train in 1965, he had twenty dollars in his pocket. Over the years he’s enjoyed success and suffered some setbacks, but  Locke says he always believed that through hard work he could achieve the ultimate dream while living in Houston. 

That rally is scheduled for April 18, 2009. 

2 on the Beat will give you more details when they become available in a few weeks.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Will be Honored in Houston
March 25, 2009


Planned Parenthood Federation of  America will honor Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton as  a “champion of reproductive health” this Friday evening, March 27, 2009 in Houston.

The former First Lady will be joined by  Ugly Betty Star America Ferrera and PPFA President Cecile Richards, the daughter of the late Texas Governor Ann Richards.

Secretary Clinton will receive the Margaret Sanger Award, the organization’s highest honor, in recognition of her support for women’s health and rights throughout her public service career.

Secretary Clinton will attend a  VIP  reception before the gala.  During the event she  will be introduced by Houston’s very own U.S. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee. 

Your Chance to Attend the White House Easter Egg Roll
March 24, 2009

The annual White House Easter Egg Roll will be held on Monday, April 13, 2009, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the South Lawn of the White House.

 For the first time, tickets for the Easter Egg Roll will be distributed online so that more children and families from across the United States have the opportunity to experience this event.  Tickets will no longer be distributed on the Ellipse the weekend before the event.  Tickets and more information about the ticketing process will be available through beginning on Thursday, March 26th.  

This year’s theme, ‘Let’s go play’, encourages America’s youth to lead healthy and active lives. The White House will open the South Lawn to children age ten and under, along with their families, to enjoy sports, cooking classes, live musical performances, storytelling and the traditional Easter egg roll.

 All guests will enter the event from the Ellipse and will go through a security screening process.   


Gene Locke to Make It Official (Again?)
March 23, 2009

Everyone knows he is running for Mayor of Houston, but former city attorney Gene Locke is going to make it official in case you didn’t know.


The event will take place at Tranquility Park, located at 400 Rusk Street this Thursday, March 26 starting at 11:00. 

By then, Locke will also have his campaign web site up and running.


Locke is going to face a tough race against City Comptroller Annise Parker, city councilman Peter Brown and Harris County Board of Education member Roy Morales.



Should Spec’s Liquor Stay or Shutdown?
March 23, 2009


What do you think:  Should Spec’s Liquor Stay or  Shutdown?

The Spec’s   located at the intersection of  Washington and Westcott  is 675 feet from  Memorial Elementary School.


At that close proximity,  Spec’s is in violation of city and state ordinances  that prohibit the sell of alcohol within 1000 feet of a public school.

The lawsuit admits that the city secretary’s office made a mistake when it issued the permit.

At this point Spec’s has two choices according to a lawsuit filed by the Harris County Attorney’s Office.

Either it has to shut down, or change the retail mix of its business: sell more food than alcohol.

The End of The Rodeo
March 23, 2009

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo ended on a high note Sunday night. 

I didn’t make it to the concert, but I talked to plenty of  people who say that Houston’s own Z.Z. Top rocked Reliant Stadium.


While thousands were jamming to the music,  others enjoyed the final  hours of the carnival rides, games and of course, the  food. 


The carnival was packed with kids and adults, and everyone I met had big smiles on their faces. 

My only question:  Were they giving away stuffed animals as prizes at the carnival?   I saw so many people carrying stuffed dogs and bears, I wondered if  the carnival workers were trying to get rid of everything to avoid packing them up and hauling them to the next destination. 


Despite the downturn in the economy, officials with the HLS&R say they were expecting the final attendance numbers to be up slightly over last year.

Congratulations to all of the rodeo volunteers and staff that made 2009 a year to remember!


This year the Houston Livestock Show and  Rodeo had so much to offer and so many memorable moments.  From the Jonas Brothers to the fried snickers bars.  It was all great fun (and fattening)

My only regret?  I was looking forward to seeing Darius Rucker, the former front man for Hootie and the Blowfish

He now has a country album and two of   the songs have climbed to #1 on the country charts.

I had tickets to his concert, but I was sent to Galveston that day for a news assignment.

Oh well, at least I  have one of his songs on my IPod.