Archive for March, 2010

Mayor Parker Names Charles McClelland as Houston Police Chief
March 31, 2010

 

 

Mayor Annise Parker today named acting Chief Charles McClelland as her choice to be Houston’s next police chief.

 

 “Chief McClelland is an innovative thinker with the respect of the rank and file and a deep knowledge of the community,” said Mayor Parker.  “His commitment to decentralized policing and his managerial experience and training make him the crime fighting leader Houston and HPD need right now.  I am confident he’ll be able to make the tough decisions and smart choices that will get more officers on the streets patrolling our neighborhoods.”

McClelland has more than 32 years of service to HPD, joining the department as a patrol officer in 1977 and rising through the ranks to his current position as an executive assistant chief in charge of the Investigative Operations Command.  He was promoted to the department’s command staff in 1998.  He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminology and a Master of Arts degree in Sociology from the University of Houston.  He is also a graduate of the Federal Bureau of Investigation National Academy and has received numerous awards and commendations. 

“I want to be police chief for the same reason I joined HPD, to make a difference,” said McClelland. “My vision for the department includes strengthening community relations, improved internal communications and more efficient processes.”

McClelland ranks as his major accomplishments the implementation of Tasers and the 24/7 Real Time Crime Center, which allows for enhanced overall crime tracking and analysis 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. 

McClelland, 55, was born in Center, Texas.  He has two daughters.  His nomination requires confirmation by Houston City Council.  He will lead a department of approximately 5,400 sworn officers.

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Houstonians Gather To Mark The Jewish Holiday of Passover
March 31, 2010

While President Barack Obama marked a new tradition of hosting Passover Seder in the White House earlier this week,  the Hittner family of Houston continued its decade long tradition of welcoming people from different religious backgrounds to help retell the story of the Jewish people’s exodus from Egypt and out of bondage.

More than 200 people attended the 10th Annual 2nd Night of  Passover Seder hosted by attorney George Hittner , his wife Erica and parents Judge David Hittner and Dr. Helen Mintz-Hittner.  George Hittner began the tradition with his college roomates, and over the years he slowly started welcoming other friends and business associates to learn about the traditions of his faith.

The event was held at Damian’s Cocina Italiana, and featured the famous Hittner family recipe of “Chicken with seeds, matzah ball soup, haroset (a Jewish apple concoction) matzah (basically large crackers but officially “unleavened bread”) half-sour pickles and lots of wine!

I had the honor of attending for a second year and the crowd included the Hittner’s close friends and family, community leaders and elected officials: Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, Harris County Commissioner Steve Radack and wife Judge Sherry Radack, State Senator John Whitmire, attorney Jim Grace, Carl Davis from the City of  Houston, public relations expert Kim Padgett, along with several parents with young children.

While people enjoyed the company and good food, they also particpated in  prayer and  song as host  George Hittner called on members of the crowd to read aloud from the haggadah.

The story of Passover is derived from the Old Testament of the Bible when the angel of death “passed over” the houses of the Israelites as death fell upon the first-born of each Egyptian household.  The “Last Supper” was a Passover Seder.

I look forward to attending next year’s 2nd Night of Passover Seder.

Senator Cornyn Blasts “OBAMACARE”
March 29, 2010

 It’s hard to believe that one issue has caused such a  bitter divide in our country.

There are people who believe that health care reform is part of a socialist agenda and will bankrupt the government.

Others are convinced that the new law  is the morally right thing to do for the 32 Million Americans who will now have a chance to go to the doctor and be treated for preexisting conditions.

Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) clearly believes that health care is health scare and a “historic mistake” as he says in this news release sent to 2 On The Beat.

WHAT OBAMACARE MEANS FOR TEXANS

 Historic Mistake

“One of the most perplexing things about this health care bill is the determination of the White House and the Democratic majority to shove this down the throat of the American people even though they’ve made it clear they don’t support this bill.”

 “So in the end, in this political process, in this great democracy we have, the voters – the people – always get the final say-so, and I think this is very important to remember as the President intends to take a victory lap on this bill.”

 –          U.S. Senator John Cornyn

 By the Numbers

1)      $102,500 is the current Texas-household share of the $12 trillion national debt, which the new unsustainable healthcare entitlement will skyrocket. 

 2)   $20,140 in new Washington spending over the first 10 years for every household in Texas.

 3)   532,000 Texans enrolled in Medicare Advantage will have their benefits reduced by half. (Congressional Budget Office)     

4)   Approximately 7.9 million Texas households making less than $200,000 will pay higher taxes. (Joint Committee on Taxation)  

5)   979,000 Texans in the individual insurance market will see premiums skyrocket by 61 percent. (Oliver Wyman  

6)   20 percent higher health care costs or a punitive new tax for failing to comply with dictates from Washington  for Texas small businesses employing 50 or more people and 7,243 Texas construction companies employing 5 or more. (U.S. Census Bureau)  

7)   1.25 million Texas college students will be overcharged an average of $1,800 each on their student loans to fund health care and other government programs. (Project on Student Debt)  

8)   $24.3 billion over 10 years in new costs to Texas (due to the unfunded Medicaid expansions) will force the governor and legislature to raise taxes, raise college tuitions, decrease the quality of education, or all three. (Texas Health and Human Services Commission)  

9)   The youngest 30 percent of Texans will pay 35 percent more based solely on their age as the new regulations drive up health care premiums in the individual market. (Oliver Wyman)  

10) 2 million low-income Texans will be added to the state’s Medicaid rolls, even though only 38 percent of doctors in the Dallas-Fort Worth area can accept new Medicaid patients, and similar scenarios are popping up across the state. (Texas Health and Human Services Commission)  

Replace With Solutions to Lower Costs

·        Lower costs through small business health plans 

·        Increase competition with the purchase of insurance across state lines 

·        Limit junk lawsuits against doctors

·        Give states incentives to lower costs and expand access

·        Promote transparency about cost and quality

·        Reduce waste, fraud, and abuse

·        Empower patients through Health Savings Accounts

Senator Cornyn serves on the Finance, Judiciary, Agriculture and Budget Committees. He serves as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee’s Immigration, Refugees and Border Security subcommittee. He served previously as Texas Attorney General, Texas Supreme Court Justice, and Bexar County District Judge.

Prominent Houston Attorney Benjamin Hall to Host New Radio Show
March 29, 2010

             

“The Ben Hall Show” begins April 3rd on CNN 650 Radio. The show will air every Saturday from 3pm to 4pm. Look for Ben Hall to put his unique spin on local and national issues.  “This won’t just be a legal show,” says Hall. “We’re going to talk about everything from healthcare to relationship issues, nothing is off limits.” The show will also spotlight people and events going on around the Houston area. 

Benjamin Hall is a Harvard-trained lawyer who served as City Attorney for the City Of Houston during the administration of Mayor Bob Lanier. Hall is now recognized as a legal expert in construction law and personal injury litigation. He has received numerous top honors and recognitions for his services in the legal field. Hall is also an ordained minister.

Mayor Parker invites President Obama to JSC
March 25, 2010

 With  thousands of  jobs, millions of  dollars and the country’s space program at stake, Mayor Annise Parker has sent a letter inviting President Barack Obama to Houston to visit the Johnson Space Center.

The formal invitation comes after Mayor Parker met with  members of the administration in Washington last week .

You can read the official news release from the Mayor’s office:  Mayor Annise Parker has sent President Obama a formal invitation to visit Johnson Space Center.  The invite is part of ongoing efforts to convince the Obama Administration to reconsider its proposal to end the Constellation manned space flight program. 

In this latest letter to the president, Mayor Parker writes, “I know you recognize the personnel who work directly or indirectly with JSC are a highly talented group, but nothing compares to meeting these brilliant individuals where their incredible work is done.  You will not leave JSC and the Clear Lake area without being impressed with their skill-set and contribution to national security and technological advancement.” 

The invitation follows the mayor’s recent meeting with numerous top Obama Administration officials, including Senior White House Advisor Valerie Jarrett and NASA Administrator Charles Bolden.  Despite those meetings, the mayor left Washington “still very concerned with the new and untested direction of the American human space exploration program being proposed in the FY2011 NASA budget.”   She believes the Constellation program would help the JSC workforce transition effectively as the space shuttle is retired from active service once the International Space Station is completed next year.  Without Constellation, Houston stands to lose anywhere from 4,000 to 7,000 high-tech jobs.  The impact to the region is estimated to be $560 million.

President Obama is already scheduled to visit Kennedy’s Space Center in Florida.  The mayor believes a visit to JSC is imperative if the president is to get a full understanding of the impact of his proposal.

Borris Miles Is Declared The Winner In Close Race
March 24, 2010

 

Miles Prevails After State House Race Recount

(Houston, TX)  Borris Miles’ victory in the March 2010 Democratic Primary for State House District 146 has been confirmed by an official recount. The recount, conducted today by the Harris County Democratic Party with assistance from the Harris County Clerk’s Office, upheld Miles’ victory by 8 votes out of 10,788 ballots cast.

“I am grateful that due process was followed, and that the election result has been finalized,” Miles said. “I thank those from the Harris County Democratic Party and County Clerk’s Office for their hard work and dedication during this recount. Most of all, I thank the people of District 146 for the opportunity to serve them in Austin. I look forward to getting to work on their behalf.”

Miles, the Democratic nominee, is unopposed in the November general election.  For more information about Borris Miles and his campaign, please visit www.borrismiles.com.

Celebrate With The Jack Yates Boys Basketball Champions
March 24, 2010

Houston City Council member Jolanda “Jo” Jones is planning a big celebration for the Jack Yates Boys Basketball Team.

The state champions will get their own party and ticker tape parade.  It should be a fun event and they definitely deserve the recognition.

Democrats Disappointed Texas Joins Suit Over Health Care
March 23, 2010

Within hours of  President Barack Obama signing comprehensive health care reform into law, some Democrats are upset that Texas has joined thirteen other states in a lawsuit to block the plan.

The Democrats have sent a letter to Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.

Abbott joined the lawsuit arguing that the law’s requirement that individuals buy health insurances violates the U.S. Constitution.

March 23, 2010 

The Honorable Gregory W. Abbott

Attorney General

209 West 14th Street

Austin, Texas 78701 

Re: Litigation Against the Federal Government Challenging the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (H.R. 3590 signed into law March 23, 2010) and related legislation

 Dear Mr. Attorney General: 

We are very disappointed by your decision to file suit against the federal government because you believe that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act “violates the United States Constitution and unconstitutionally infringes upon Texans’ individual liberties.” 

Article VI of the United States Constitution declares federal law the supreme law of the land. Since Congress passed this legislation under its constitutional grant of power under Article I, Section 8, Clause 1, it is unclear how any case based on “Texas’ individual liberties” or the 10th Amendment is legally sound. 

In the current suit as well as your January 5, 2010 letter to Senators Hutchison and Cornyn, you contend that Congress is overstepping its authority under the Commerce Clause by imposing a tax penalty on individuals who choose not to buy health insurance. A thorough reading of case law does not support your assertion. Federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, have time and again given Congress broad authority under the Commerce Clause to regulate interstate commerce and impose taxes. Your assertion clearly ignores a more current case (Gonzales v. Raich) in which the U.S. Supreme Court looked at the legislation as a whole to determine if the individual provision was necessary to achieve the stated economic objectives. Many scholars have stated that Gonzales v. Raich decision provides a sufficient basis for Congress to mandate that individuals purchase health insurance. Notably, President Ronald Reagan’s Solicitor General, Charles Fried, stated yesterday that the federal health law’s requirements are nothing new: “[w]e have tons of laws that impose obligations on people,” he said, “and some people would rather not participate, starting with the Internal Revenue code” — or the draft in wartime, or Social Security, or environmental restrictions on the states.

 Furthermore, nullification and secession as popular American legal theories were tested, fought and defeated at Appomattox. The 10th Amendment does not allow a Texas governor to secede—or a Texas Attorney General to sue—just because they want to score political points. As a Texas taxpayer, we ask you to quit wasting taxpayer money with threats of lawsuits destined to lose, go back to work on issues like predatory lending or toxic contamination in Texas air and water, and shelf these divisive, extreme and losing ideas. 

While you are free to hold whatever personal view you care to hold, given that Texas state agencies are being asked to cut their budgets by 5 percent, and the Legislature has neither appropriated your office the funds for nor instructed you to pursue such litigation, this action has all the markings of a frivolous lawsuit.

 We would also question why you would file a lawsuit that, if successful, would ostensibly result in the reimplementation of the worst practices of the insurance industry. It is disconcerting that you would expend state resources in an attempt to repeal small business tax credits, repeal tax subsidies to middle income families, reinstate the Medicare “donut hole,” allow insurance companies to indiscriminately drop people from their coverage, and prevent Texas from receiving any of the myriad pro-consumer reforms in the legislation. 

To our knowledge, the Legislature has not instructed you to institute this suit nor has it specifically appropriated money for the proposed litigation. Please explain what constitutional or statutory provisions authorize you to bring this type of lawsuit. Also, please explain how you have obtained the consent of your client, the State of Texas, under the applicable provisions of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct. Finally, please explain how you intend to pay for the litigation. 

Finally, please provide our offices with copies of any legal briefs or memoranda prepared by your office that address in any way the questions in the preceding paragraph. To the extent that you seek to withhold any information, please note that this request for information is made for legislative purposes under Section 552.108 of the Government Code.

 We look forward to hearing from you promptly.

 Sincerely, 

Garnet F. Coleman Eliot Shapleigh

Trey Martinez Fischer Rodney Ellis

Jessica Farrar Leticia Van De Putte

Sylvester Turner

Mayor Annise Parker Picks A Police Chief
March 22, 2010

Houston Mayor Annise Parker has reportedly decided on a new police chief for the city of Houston.

She made that announcement Monday afternoon while speaking to a committee meeting of the Greater Houston Partnership.

Tonight, spokesperson Janice Evans has confirmed that the Mayor has made her decision and that person is currently working in the Houston Police Department.

Evans also stressed that the “selection process is not finished and that anything could derail/halt the process.”

The Mayor told GHP members that she would make her decision public by the end of the week, but Evans told 2 on the Beat that the Mayor is still on track to decide by the end of the month.

Houston has been without a permanent police chief since Harold Hurtt left the department.

Executive assistant Chief Charles McCllelland was named interim chief in December, and was expected to apply for the top job.

Other names under consideration, according to sources, include Assistant Police Chief Vickie King, Executive chief Rosie Montalvo, Executive Assistant Chief K.A. Munden, Executive Chief Tim Ottemeir and assistant chief G.T. Buenik, who is over internal investigations.

Gary Blankinship, President of the Houston Police Officers Union, said he is happy that Mayor Parker is staying in house and choosing the next chief from within HPD’s ranks.  “I have a good relationship with the finalists for the job,” said Blankinship.

Those finalists are reportedly McCllelland, and the remaining executive chiefs, Ottemier, Montalvo and Munden. McClelland and Ottemier are considered the leading candidates by some.

What’s Next For Texas after Passage of Federal Health Care?
March 22, 2010

 As President Barack Obama makes plans to sign comprehensive health care reform into law,  Governor Rick Perry and other statewide  leaders are making plans to stop reform, which could include suing the government. 

Governor Perry issued the following statement Monday regarding the state’s next steps after the passage of the federal health care bill:

“Texas leaders will continue to do everything in our power to find ways to protect our families, taxpayers and medical providers from the federal government’s misguided efforts to take over our health care system and infringe upon the fundamental rights of individuals and the state.” 

“My office is working closely with fellow governors and with Attorney General Greg Abbott to explore the state’s options, including legal action, to challenge the constitutionality of this national health care bill that will cost Texas taxpayers billions of dollars and drive down the quality of health care.”