Archive for June, 2010

Gov. Perry Issues Disaster Proclamation
June 28, 2010

Gov. Perry Issues Disaster Proclamation, Directs Pre-deployment of State Resources as Tropical Storm Alex Threatens Texas Coast

 AUSTIN – Gov. Rick Perry today issued a disaster proclamation for 19 Texas counties and ordered the pre-deployment of state resources as Tropical Storm Alex tracks toward the Texas coast. The governor’s declaration allows the state to initiate necessary preparedness efforts, such as pre-deploying resources to ensure local communities are ready to respond to disasters.

 “We continue to closely monitor this storm, and are preparing accordingly for its potential impact to our communities,” Gov. Perry said. “Tropical Storm Alex is now in the Gulf, and it is imperative that residents pay attention to this storm, heed warnings from their local leaders, and take the steps necessary to protect their families, homes and businesses.”

 According to the National Weather Service, Texas remains in the projected path of Tropical Storm Alex, which, based on current projections, could strengthen to a hurricane before making landfall later this week. 

The following state resources have been activated: 

Texas Military Forces: Up to 2,500 guardsmen, eight UH-60 helicopters and three C-130 aircraft are prepared for rapid deployment as needed. 

Texas Engineering Extension Service: Texas Task Force 1 and Texas Task Force 2 have been activated and will preposition in Weslaco and Kingsville on Tuesday to provide search and rescue capabilities as needed. 

 Texas Forest Service (TFS): TFS is coordinating the activation and deployment of a Type III Incident Management Team to support disaster operations and the DPS McAllen Regional Headquarters. 

Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS): DPS is activating the disaster district committee in McAllen to support potential emergency response for resource coordination. Regional liaison officers are being deployed to support field operations. 

The Alamo Regional Command Center has been activated, and 100 buses are on standby should they be needed to assist in a potential evacuation. Additionally, the Health and Human Services Commission is preparing to provide support for mass care operations as needed, and the state is working with volunteer organizations and private sector partners to coordinate efforts for potential evacuations and sheltering operations should these capabilities be required.

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Get Ready For Hurricane Season
June 28, 2010

With Tropical Storm Alex already causing concern, Harris County officials are encouraging residents with special health care and transportation needs to register with 2-1-1.
In the event of a storm slamming into the area, you will get help evacuating from your home and taken to a safe place to ride out the storm.

Here’s the information on how to register:

Dial 2-1-1 as soon as possible:
.       If you have a disability or special health care need and require assistance to get out.
.       If you cannot drive and cannot arrange transportation.
.       If you do not have a vehicle and you have no one else to help you evacuate.
Local emergency managers will make every attempt to evacuate someone who does not have the ability to evacuate themselves, as long as the person is in a surge zone. In the event of a hurricane entering the Gulf, individuals should pay close attention to local media to determine when and how evacuations will take place. If someone needs specialized transportation and has not been contacted, 2-1-1 Texas Information and Referral Specialists will have referrals for those callers at the appropriate time.
Another reason for the registration process is to give local emergency planners a better idea of the numbers of individuals who may need assistance, and the type of assistance they may need.  It is essential that all individuals have a personal plan concerning evacuation needs that includes family, friends, or neighbors who may be able to assist them.
It is critical that you begin now to make your evacuation plans, prepare an emergency kit and learn the evacuation routes. This should be done well in advance.

Operators answering the phones at 2-1-1 and 877-541-7905 for the hearing impaired are prepared to help you register now, before a hurricane strikes.

Hurricane Preparedness Tips on the Web:
Harris Co. Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Management: www.hcoem.org.
Texas Division of Emergency Management: www.txdps.state.tx.us/dem.
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA):  www.Ready.gov.
American Red Cross:  www.redcross.org.

http://ohsem.newsrouter.com/

Farouk Systems Hosts Miss USA Rima Fakih
June 25, 2010

Houston, TX—Meet the reigning Miss USA 2010 Rima Fakih June 26th at the Arab American Cultural and Community Center in Houston, Texas, hosted by Farouk Systems and Farouk Shami, founder and chairman.

The program begins at 4 p.m. and attendees can have their photo taken with Rima, followed by a welcome from Rima and Farouk. Jabour and the Al-Awda Dabkah Troupe will perform and an authentic Middle Eastern dinner and refreshments will be served.

“Rima, the first Arab-American immigrant being crowned Miss America is a significant step,” says Farouk Shami, founder of Farouk Systems and fellow Arab-American immigrant. “We want to highlight the contributions and successes of Arabs in America and show support for Rima before she represents the United States on the Miss Universe stage in August.”

For more information on the June 26th event, call 832-878-5211.

Lawmakers Propose Interim Solution To Gulf Drilling Ban
June 24, 2010

Reps. Brady, Green Lead Bipartisan Letter

Washington, D.C. – As the White House continues its ban on deepwater drilling in the Gulf, a bipartisan group of lawmakers is proposing an interim step that would satisfy concerns about further spills while protecting approximately three-fourths of the jobs associated with oil and gas production in the Outer Continental Shelf.

 In a letter sent to Secretary Salazar today, 24 lawmakers – led by Texas Reps. Kevin Brady (R-Woodlands) and Gene Green (D-Houston) – proposed allowing low-risk development and appraisal wells to go forward while the Department of Interior continues its assessment on deepwater exploratory wells. Earlier this week a Louisiana federal judge struck down the moratorium, but Administration officials have vowed to appeal.  

 “We believe a critical distinction has been overlooked. Different wells present different levels of risk,” the letter stated and also noted that while historically safe, the highest risk occurs during the initial drilling of exploration wells – five of which are impacted by the moratorium. The other twenty-eight impacted wells in the Gulf are development and appraisal wells which carry much smaller, minimal risk as the parameters of the known reservoir are already defined.

 “This modification to the moratorium will address the Administration’s call for safe and secure drilling, protect an estimated 75% of the jobs that could be lost under the existing deepwater moratorium and help prevent future energy supply shortages in years 2011 and 2012,” say Brady and Green.  

 The bipartisan group of lawmakers also urged the Department of Interior to consider indicating now that U.S. deepwater lease terms will be extended consistent with not just the length of the moratorium but the resulting delay in returning the rig to the OCS and its lease site. This request recognizes that deepwater rigs would not be able to return to production in the Gulf for an additional two to three years after the moratorium expires.

 “This action will ensure that companies continue the major financial investments that permit successful energy production in the United States,” wrote the lawmakers who are concerned the Gulf Coast could suffer the loss of tens of thousands of jobs, $2 billion in wages and the bankruptcies of small and mid-sized businesses who support energy production in the Gulf’s deep water.

 Signing the letter are:  Rep. Kevin Brady (TX-08), Rep. Gene Green (TX-29), Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), Rep. Pete Olson (TX-22), Rep. Henry Cuellar (TX-28), Rep. Chet Edwards (TX-17), Rep. Louie Gohmert (TX-01), Rep. Gregg Harper (MS-03), Rep. Michael Conaway (TX-11), Rep. Joe Barton (TX-06), Rep. Sam Johnson  (TX-03), Rep. Lamar Smith (TX-21), Rep. Ron Paul (TX-14), Rep. John Carter (TX-31), Rep. Pete Sessions (TX-32), Rep. John Culberson (TX-07), Rep. Mac Thornberry (TX-13), Rep. Kay Granger (TX-12), Rep. Trent Franks (AZ-02), Rep. Jeb Hensarling (TX-05), Rep. Ralph Hall (TX-04), Rep. Michael Burgess (TX-26), Rep. Michael McCaul (TX-10), Rep. Rodney Alexander (LA-05)

Texas To Honor Those Impacted by Gulf Oil Spill
June 24, 2010

Governor Perry once called the BP oil spill an “act of  God.”

On Sunday,  he wants to honor those devastated by the spill.  The Governor has proclaimed  Sunday, June 27, 2010, as a Day of Prayer in Texas for the Gulf Coast.

According to a news release sent by the Governor’s office, the Day of  Prayer will honor those killed, injured or suffering economically  following the explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig that took 11 lives and has led to economic hardship for many others throughout the region.

“The Deepwater Horizon oil spill has impacted numerous lives along the Gulf Coast, especially those families who lost loved ones as a result of this incident,” Gov. Perry said. “I am joining Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and Alabama Gov. Bob Riley in declaring June 27th a day of prayer to honor those who lost their lives and the many who have lost their livelihood as a result of this tragedy.”

Gov. Perry urges Texans of all faiths and religious traditions to offer prayer for the healing of individuals, the rebuilding of communities and the restoration of the entire Gulf Coast environment in the wake of this disaster.

To view proclamation, please visit http://governor.state.tx.us/news/proclamation/14802/

Four Houston Police Officers Indicted In Teen Beating Case
June 23, 2010

 

(Houston, Tx) Harris County District Attorney Pat Lykos announced Wednesday the decision of the 183rd District Court Grand Jury to indict four former Houston Police Department officers involved in the March 23rd arrest of a suspected burglar. The four men are accused of mistreating Chad Holley after arresting him for burglary. Raad Hassan, Phillip Bryan, Andrew Blomberg, and Drew Ryser are subject to penalties of up to a year in jail and up to a $4000 fine for the misdemeanor offenses. The cases will be heard in a district court due to the defendants’ status as public servants at the time of the alleged offense.

Surveillance video of the incident was recovered by Uncle Bob’s Storage and mailed to the Houston Police Department and the District Attorney’s Office. Chief McClelland immediately contacted the District Attorney, and both the Police Integrity Division of the District Attorney’s Office and HPD worked together to develop relevant testimony and secure all available evidence.

District Attorney Lykos praised the prompt action of both Chief McClelland and the HPD investigative officers for their efforts. “Chief McClelland acted quickly and decisively to alert us of the allegations of misconduct and has once again demonstrated HPD’s willingness to hold themselves to the highest standards of professional conduct.” She further commended the management of Uncle Bob’s Storage for performing their civic duty to report the incident they observed on their surveillance cameras.

Bonds are set at $1000 for each charge.

The mission of law enforcement is to serve and protect. To effectively perform our duty, it is imperative that we have the respect and cooperation of our citizens. People should know and be assured that the Houston Police Department and the Harris County District Attorney’s Office will thoroughly investigate and vigorously prosecute those who abuse their positions of trust. (END).

Raad Hassan-Official Oppression

Violation of the Civil Rights of a Prisoner

Andrew Blomberg-Official Oppression

Drew Ryser-Official Oppression

Phillip Bryan-Official Oppression

Violation of the Civil Rights of a Prisoner

Former HPD Chief Harold Hurtt Gets New Job
June 23, 2010

ICE selects former Houston police chief to lead outreach office

 (NEWS RELEASE)
WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) today announced Harold Hurtt, former Houston Police Chief, has been selected as the new director for the Office of State and Local Coordination (OSLC) – which will oversee outreach and communication between ICE, local law enforcement agencies and groups, tribal leaders, and non-governmental organizations.

Chief Hurtt is a respected member of the law enforcement community and understands the concerns of local law enforcement leaders,” said Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for ICE John Morton. “His experience and skills will be an invaluable asset to the ICE’s outreach and coordination efforts. Partnerships with local law enforcement agencies and community organizations are essential to ICE’s mission.”

Hurtt is a long-time law enforcement professional with more than 40 years of experience and a record of significant accomplishments. In 2004, Hurtt was selected to serve as the police chief for the Houston Police Department, the country’s fourth largest police department overseeing a staff of nearly 7,000 personnel. Prior to his time in Houston, Hurtt served as the police chief in Phoenix, the nation’s fifth largest police department. For six years, he also led the Oxnard Police Department in California. Hurtt began his law enforcement career with the Phoenix Police Department in 1968.

Protecting the public is easier when local and federal law enforcement agencies work together. I’m happy to be given this opportunity to bring my local law enforcement experience to D.C.,” said Hurtt, who is expected to begin next month.

Hurtt graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology from Arizona State University (1977) and a Master’s degree in Organizational Management from the University of Phoenix (1991).

For more information, visit www.ice.gov.

# ICE #

 

ICE selects former Houston police chief to lead outreach office

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) today announced Harold Hurtt, former Houston Police Chief, has been selected as the new director for the Office of State and Local Coordination (OSLC) – which will oversee outreach and communication between ICE, local law enforcement agencies and groups, tribal leaders, and non-governmental organizations.

 

Chief Hurtt is a respected member of the law enforcement community and understands the concerns of local law enforcement leaders,” said Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for ICE John Morton. “His experience and skills will be an invaluable asset to the ICE’s outreach and coordination efforts. Partnerships with local law enforcement agencies and community organizations are essential to ICE’s mission.”

 

Hurtt is a long-time law enforcement professional with more than 40 years of experience and a record of significant accomplishments. In 2004, Hurtt was selected to serve as the police chief for the Houston Police Department, the country’s fourth largest police department overseeing a staff of nearly 7,000 personnel. Prior to his time in Houston, Hurtt served as the police chief in Phoenix, the nation’s fifth largest police department. For six years, he also led the Oxnard Police Department in California. Hurtt began his law enforcement career with the Phoenix Police Department in 1968.

 

Protecting the public is easier when local and federal law enforcement agencies work together. I’m happy to be given this opportunity to bring my local law enforcement experience to D.C.,” said Hurtt, who is expected to begin next month.

 

Hurtt graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology from Arizona State University (1977) and a Master’s degree in Organizational Management from the University of Phoenix (1991).

 

For more information, visit www.ice.gov.

# ICE #

Houston City Council Members Avoid Cutting Their Own Office Budgets
June 23, 2010

For nearly one hour, the majority of  Houston city council discussed why they felt they could not cut their office budgets by an additional 2 – 3% to match the reduction Mayor Parker required of most city departments.

Proposed by council member Melissa Noriega and Al Hoang,  the reduction would have forced some council members to terminate employees and cut constituent services, according to those who were opposed to it.

CM Wanda Adams pointed out that some of her employees already work without the benefit of health insurance.  CM Mike Sullivan pointed out that he reimburses his staff for vehicle mileage, when they must drive around the district, stretching from Clear Lake to Kingwood, to meet with members of the public. 

Eventually, the proposal was withdrawn, much to the disappointment of CM Hoang who wanted a 3% cut.

His budget amendment was expected to save  taxpayers $109,000.

“I think it’s disingenuous to ask departments to cut their budgets, and not cut our own,” said Hoang. “We’re elected to lead by example not by decree.”

According to Hoang’s office the proposed council budget is almost $5.5 million. Had the cut been approved, the budget would have been reduced to $5,381,286.

City Workers Watching Budget Battle
June 23, 2010

With a 3% percent pay raise and bilingual stipends on the line, several members of  HOPE, the city employees’ union, (I assume they aren’t on duty)  are sitting in the council chambers watching as the Mayor and council members begin the budget adoption process.

Mayor Parker has proposed a balanced budget totaling about $4.1 Billion.

But city council member Mike Sullivan has proposed deferring the employee pay raise.

Council member Anne Clutterbuck wants to eliminate some bilingual stipends. The $75 paycheck bonus is paid to city employees who say they are often called on to translate for non-english speaking constituents who have questions about city services. 

The meeting is expected to last all day.

Mayor Parker just announced that council will break at noon for lunch and have a  “cookies and milk” break in the afternoon, which caused some council members to chuckle.

It’s going to be a long day.

Houston Radio Personality Michael Harris Honored
June 23, 2010

Congratulations to KCOH radio Personality Michael Harris – Houston’s “Top Jock” as he is called by his countless fans.

On Wednesday, the dean of Houston radio was honored at city hall  for his remarkable career and dedication to keeping listeners  informed about current events. 

Dozens of Harris’ family members, friends and radio listeners packed into council chambers to watch as the mayor and council members took turns reading resolutions praising Harris and his work on KCOH radio.

As if that weren’t enough, it seemed like council broke with protocol by allowing representatives from the offices of  Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Congressman Al Green, State Senator Rodney Ellis and State Rep. Sylvester Turner, to present Harris with certificates honoring his many achievements.

Harris has been a recognizable voice on KCOH radio for 35 years.  Sometimes you get to see his face on TV when KPRC Local 2 stops by his studio to interview him about some hot topic that he’s discussing on his daily talk show.

Over the years I’ve heard him use the airwaves to debate callers, and hold political candidates, elected officials, pastors and business leaders accountable for their actions.  As a result, Harris has  been threatened with boycotts, the loss of advertisers and people calling his boss demanding that he fire Harris. 

Regardless of  the potential consequences to his professional career or personal livelihood, I’ve never seen Harris back down from a fight on behalf of the community. 

I doubt anything will change after he was honored on Tuesday.