Archive for January, 2011

What Texans Are Saying About Florida Healthcare Ruling
January 31, 2011

On Monday, a federal judge in Florida struck down key elements of  President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform plan.

Several states, including Texas, have filed suit claiming the plan is unconstitutional.

After the ruling, which is not the end of the fight, Senator John Cornyn, Governor Rick Perry and State Representative Garnet Coleman issued statements.

I have posted their full comments below for you to read.

Cornyn Responds to Florida Healthcare Ruling

“This Federal Government Cannot Force a Citizen to Buy Something They Don’t Want”  

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) issued this statement today in response to the decision by a federal judge in Florida that the individual mandate central to the Obama health care law is unconstitutional – making the entire law void: 

“Today another court has ruled that the Federal Government cannot force a citizen to buy something they don’t want. The individual mandate in the President’s signature health care bill impinges on the individual liberties our founders fought so hard to protect and exceeds the government of limited powers they fought so hard to create. I will continue to work with my colleagues to repeal this massive, ill-conceived bill and replace it with sensible, substantive reform that will not sink future generations further into debt.”

 

 Statement by Gov. Rick Perry on Federal Judge Ruling Individual Mandate is Unconstitutional:

 AUSTIN – Gov. Rick Perry today issued the following statement on U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson’s ruling that the individual mandate required by the federal health care reform bill is unconstitutional:

“Today’s ruling represents a victory in the ongoing effort to end federal intrusion into the lives of every American through this one-size-fits-all approach to health care reform. I applaud the judge’s decision, which affirms that the federal government’s attempt to force individuals to buy government-approved health insurance is an egregious violation of our Constitutional rights.

“I commend Attorney General Abbott’s efforts to protect Texans from this misguided federal overreach, and look forward to continuing to work with Texas leaders and Congress to find responsible solutions for our state’s health care needs.”

In this lawsuit, Texas, along with 25 other states, challenged the individual mandate in Obamacare, maintaining that Congress does not have the authority to force individuals to buy health insurance. This administration continues to spend excessively and impose unfunded mandates upon the states, including this federal health care reform bill that will cost Texas taxpayers more than $27 billion over 10 years for the Medicaid expansion starting in 2014. 

Statement from Rep. Coleman on Florida Court Health Care Ruling 

Austin- Representative Garnet F. Coleman released the following statement in response to the Florida Court’s health care ruling:

 Today’s ruling puts us one step closer to the Supreme Court, where this issue will ultimately be resolved. It’s disconcerting that General Abbott is actively working to dismantle a law that will improve the health coverage that Texans already have and help countless others purchase insurance. This court case is nothing but a political sideshow.

 Repealing the health care law would mean:

  • Young adults who’ve been able to stay on their parents plan would become uninsured, and insurance companies would regain the authority to discriminate based on pre-existing conditions and shove Americans off their policies when they become sick and need it most.
  • 161,000 young adults would lose their insurance coverage through their parents’ health plans, sometimes just after they finish school and as they are looking for a job.
  • Nearly 11.8 million residents of Texas with private insurance coverage would suddenly find themselves vulnerable again to having lifetime limits placed on how much insurance companies will spend on their health care.
  • Insurance companies would once again be allowed cut off someone’s coverage unexpectedly when they are in an accident or become sick because of a simple mistake on an application. This would leave More than 1.1 million people in Texas at risk of losing their insurance at the moment they need it most, as one of the worst abuses of the insurance industry would become legal again.
  • New insurance plans would no longer be required to cover recommended preventive services, like mammograms and flu shots, without cost sharing, nor would they have to guarantee enrollees the right to choose any available primary care provider in the network or see an OB-GYN without a referral.
  • Nearly 2.8 million seniors in Texas who have Medicare coverage would be forced to pay a co-pay to receive important preventive services, like mammograms and colonoscopies.
  • Medicare would no longer pay for an annual check-up visit, so nearly 2.8 million seniors in Texas who have Medicare coverage would have to pay extra if they want to stay healthy by getting check-ups regularly.
  • 162,869 on Medicare Would See Significantly Higher Prescription Drug Costs: In Texas, 162,869 Medicare beneficiaries received a one-time, tax-free $250 rebate to help pay for prescription drugs in the “donut hole” coverage gap in 2010. Medicare beneficiaries who fall into the “donut hole” in 2011 will be eligible for 50 percent discounts on covered brand name prescription drugs.
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Let’s Get Ready To Rodeo
January 30, 2011

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo doesn’t officially start  until Tuesday, March 1st , however, this is party season for many of  the rodeo committees.

On Saturday night, hundreds of men and women strapped on their finest western wear to attend the 18th Annual Black Heritage Western Gala at Reliant Center.

It was a fun-filled night featuring dinner, drinks and dancing to Zydeco music.  

The evening was also a nonstop fashion show of  cowboys and cowgirls wearing  their best jeans, jackets, dresses, leather skirts and boots.

Several community leaders were also honored during the evening.   The honorees were Cynthia clay Briggs/Executive Director of Communities in Schools; George Durham/retired deputy from the Harris County Sheriff’s Office;Eveyln Henry/Houston Independent School District;Karen Levingston-Franklin/Chairman and CEO, World Youth Foundation; Rissie Owens/Chairman, Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles; Kimberly Ratcliff/Vice President, 100 Ranchers-Texas and Wesley Ratcliff/Former Chairman, Independent Cattlemen’s Association of Texas.

The Black Heritage Committee hosts several activities during the year.  The gala is its major fundraiser to support youth scholarships. 

Last year, the Black Heritage Committee awarded $285,000 in scholarships to nineteen outstanding students.

Members say the purpose of  the committee is tot promote the Houston Livestock Show and rodeo in the African-American community.

 

Mark your calendars. Friday, March 4, is Black Heritage Day at the Rodeo. 

 Janet Jackson is scheduled to perform.

Houston Based CITGO Helping Those Hit Hard By Winter
January 28, 2011

 

BOSTON, Jan. 27, 2011CITGO Petroleum Corporation has announced the start of the sixth consecutive year of the CITGO-Venezuela Heating Oil Program, which helps approximately 500,000 individuals every winter, including those in more than 250 tribal communities and 234 homeless shelters across 25 states and the District of Columbia.  CITGO President and CEO Alejandro Granado and the chairman of Citizens Energy Corporation, Joseph P. Kennedy II, were joined by a CITGO-Venezuela Heating Oil Program recipient to officially launch this year’s program with a home heating oil delivery to a family in the Boston area. 

“CITGO is very proud to mark the sixth anniversary of our Heating Oil Program, our flagship social development initiative, which is in alignment with the humanitarian and solidarity principles endorsed by the government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela through its national oil company, Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A (PDVSA),” said CITGO President and CEO Alejandro Granado. “Since its beginning in 2005, this program has been fully supported by President Hugo Chávez and it has been maintained over time thanks to the solidarity that exists between the people of Venezuela and the United States.  It is without doubt one of the most important and long-lasting social development initiatives implemented by any large energy corporation in the U.S. and around the world.”

 Mr. Granado pointed out that according to official figures, eight million U.S. households are forced to choose between heating their homes and covering other vital necessities. “What would each one of us choose if we could only afford one or the other?  Would you warm your home or feed your family? Those are decisions no one should have to make,” he said.  “Although at CITGO we cannot help eight million households in need, we believe that every home that we do get to warm alleviates the need, and makes a difference, one home at a time,” he added. 

CITGO has partnered with Citizens Energy Corporation, a non-profit organization created by Joseph P. Kennedy II, a Boston native, to help implement the program. Citizens Energy Corporation works across the country to support families in need of home heating oil assistance and ensure that the CITGO-Venezuela heating oil donations reach the people that need help the most. Since 2005, 170 million gallons of home heating oil have been donated to needy families across the United States to help them stay warm through the winter months. 

“Every year, we hear from families who struggle each and every day to put food on the table and heat their homes,” said Joseph P. Kennedy II, President of Citizens Energy Corporation. “We are deeply grateful to CITGO and the people of Venezuela for their generosity to those who need help keeping their families warm. Every year, we ask major oil companies and oil-producing nations to help our senior citizens and the poor make it through winter, and only one company, CITGO, and one country, Venezuela, has responded to our appeals.” 

The CITGO and Citizens Energy presidents delivered heating oil to the South Boston home of Diane Clark, who is raising her three adopted grandchildren, ages 2, 4, and 8, while caring for her 63-year-old brother, who has cerebral palsy. “I really appreciate the help from CITGO and Citizens Energy,” said Clark, who works part-time at the U.S. Post Office. “I work, but it’s a real struggle taking care of the kids and my brother.”

 The CITGO-Venezuela Heating Oil Program began in 2005 in the aftermath of Hurricanes Rita and Katrina. Thousands of low-income people in the United States called for assistance as they struggled with the high price of heating oil that the resulted from the hurricanes’ destruction.  This plea triggered an open letter on Oct. 27, 2005 from 12 U.S. Senators, including Senators John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, and Harry Reid. They requested that oil companies step forward to help low-income families affected by the high prices of heating oil. As the senators stated in their letter, “American families need economic relief from high energy prices.” 

Families struggling to pay for home heating oil can call Citizens Energy Corporation at 1-877-JOE-4-OIL (1-877-564-4645) or apply online at www.citizensenergy.com to see if they are eligible for heating oil assistance. If approved, the household will receive an authorization letter from Citizens Energy Corporation and details on how to arrange delivery with an approved heating oil dealer.

      CITGO, based in Houston, is a refiner, transporter and marketer of transportation fuels, lubricants, petrochemicals and other industrial products.  The company is owned by PDV America, Inc., an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A., the national oil company of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

 For more information visit www.citgo.com

 Beginning in 1979 with oil-trading ventures in Latin America and Africa, Citizens Energy has used revenues from commercial enterprises to channel millions of dollars into charitable programs in the U.S. and abroad. Whether heating the homes of the elderly and the poor, lowering the cost of prescription drugs for millions of Americans, or starting solar heating projects in Jamaica and Venezuela, Citizens creates social ventures as innovative as the businesses that finance them.

For more information, visit www.citizensenergy.com.

Three Houston Area College Students Named White House Interns
January 28, 2011

White House Internship Program Announces Spring 2011 Participants

WASHINGTON, DC – The White House Internship Program announced today the participants for the spring 2011 session.  The program’s mission is to make the White House accessible to future leaders all around the nation and cultivate and prepare those devoted to public service for future leadership opportunities. 

A White House Internship provides a unique opportunity to gain valuable professional experience and build leadership skills.  Interns work in one of several White House departments, including the Office of Cabinet Affairs, the Office of the Chief of Staff, the Office of Scheduling and Advance, the Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs, the Office of Health Reform, the Office of Legislative Affairs, the Office of Management and Administration, the Office of White House Counsel, the Office of Energy and Climate Change, the National Economic Council, the Office of Presidential Correspondence, the Presidential Personnel Office, the Communications Department, the Domestic Policy Council, the Office of the First Lady, and the Office of the Vice President.

Additional information about the White House Internship Program is available here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/about/internships/.  The application for the Fall 2011 White House Internship will be posted on January 31, 2011.

Spring 2011 White House Interns

The below list includes the spring 2011 White House interns, their hometowns and the higher education institution they most recently attended.

Adams, Carrie Hometown: Rochester, NY; College of William & Mary, VA

Ahuja, Gurwin Hometown: Solon, OH; Ohio State University, OH

Anderson, Drew Hometown: Tipton, IN; Indiana University, IN

Alexander, Brittany Hometown: Washington, D.C.; George Washington University, Washington, D.C.

Appleton, Mark Hometown: Phoenix, AZ; Arizona State University, AZ

Arrington, Hattie Hometown: Los Angeles, CA; Pepperdine University, CA

Aylward, Michael Hometown: Buffalo, NY; University of Michigan, MI

Beechem, Stephanie Hometown: Eugene, OR; University of Washington, WA

Benker, Kayla Hometown: Omaha, NE; Claremont McKenna College, CA

Black, Julius Hometown: Beltsville, MD; Northern Virginia Community College, VA

Blackshere, Ryann Hometown: Monrovia, CA; Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, NY

Blauw, Michael Hometown: Grand Rapids, MI; Hope College, MI

**Bloomer, Laura Hometown: Sugar Land, TX; University of Texas at Austin, TX**

Bowerman, Heather Hometown: San Diego, CA; Harvard University, MA.

Boyer, Helen Hometown: Newark, DE; American University, Washington, D.C.

Briggs, Gary Hometown: New Orleans, LA; Texas Christian University, TX

Brinton, Sadie Hometown: San Francisco, CA; Arizona State University, AZ

Bronstein, Jonathan Hometown: Thousand Oaks, CA; University of California-Santa Barbara, CA

Brown, Jamal Hometown: Sacramento, CA; Dartmouth College, NH

Brown, Eboni Hometown: Helena, AL; Wartburg College, IA

Bruns, Jennifer Hometown: St. Louis, MO; Webster University, MO

Cager, Chezia Hometown: Baltimore, MD; College of Notre Dame, MD

Cannon, Mylan Hometown: Columbia, SC; Ohio University, OH

Carreon, Victoria Hometown: Grants, NM; New Mexico Tech, NM

Castle, Kimberly Hometown: Oakland, CA; Northwestern University, IL

Chapman, George Hometown: Brookline, MA; UCLA School of Law, CA

Citak, Jennifer Hometown: Englewood Cliffs, NJ; George Washington University, Washington, D.C.

**Coleman, Quonna Hometown: Houston, TX; Texas Southern University, TX**

Copeland, Erica Hometown: Los Angeles, CA; George Washington University, Washington, D.C.

Curtis, Jessica Hometown: Portland, OR; McDaniel College, MD

Danak, Avni Hometown: Niles, IL; DePaul University, IL

Dar, Mohammad Hometown: Lake Dallas, TX; University of Michigan Medical School, MI

Day, Alex Hometown: Cupertino, CA; Johns Hopkins University, MD

De Alwis, Ronalie Hometown: Seattle, WA; Seattle University, WA

Dean, Laura Hometown: Bethesda, MD; Harvard University, MA

DeSplinter, Brian Hometown: Denver, CO; University of Notre Dame, IN

Doumet, Mark Hometown: Los Angeles, CA; Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, Washington, D.C.

Ellis, Jennifer Hometown: Vancouver, WA; Indiana University Maurer School of Law, IN

Elmaleh-Sachs, Julia Hometown: New York, NY; University of Maryland-College Park, MD

Epstein, Paige Hometown: Buffalo Grove, IL; University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, IL

Falce, Allyse Hometown: Wethersfield, CT; Northeastern University, MA

Feldman, Shelby Hometown: Seattle, WA; University of South Florida, FL

Fitzpatrick, Kelly Hometown: Los Angeles, CA; University of California-Berkeley, CA

Forbes-Terry, Chelsea Hometown: Hayward, CA; Arizona State University, AZ

Foss, Anne Hometown: Gulf Breeze, FL; University of Florida, FL

Garcia, Eric Hometown: Chino Hills, CA; Chaffey College, CA

Goldstein, Jeffrey Hometown: Newton, MA; University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, MI

Gonzalez, Tiffany Hometown: San Francisco, CA; Georgetown University Law Center, Washington, D.C.

Graboyes, Madison Hometown: Dresher, PA; New York University, NY

Graves, Reynolds Hometown: Grosse Pointe, MI; University of Massachusetts-Boston, MA

Greene, Matty Hometown: Austin, TX; University of Texas at Austin, TX

Hall, Christa Hometown: Citrus Heights, CA; University of California-Berkeley

Harper, Christina Hometown: Ft. Washington, MD; Howard University, Washington D.C.

Hasan, Aisha Hometown: Clarksville, MD; University of Maryland-College Park, MD

Haynes, Quintin Hometown: Rockledge, FL; Florida A & M University, FL

Hildreth, Aaron Hometown: Longmont, CO; University of Utah, UT

Huffman, Mackenzie Hometown: Edina, MN; St. Olaf College, MN

Iyer, Serrena Hometown: Riverside, CT; Yale University, CT

Jones, Eric Hometown: Vidalia, GA; University of Georgia, GA

Kaine, Nathaniel Hometown: Richmond, VA; George Washington University, Washington, D.C.

Kapnik, Benjamin Hometown: Denver, CO; George Washington University Law School, Washington, D.C.

Kaufman, Evan Hometown: Bryn Mawr, PA; Indiana University-Kelley School of Business, IN

King, Colleen Hometown: Cherry Hill, NJ; University of Notre Dame, IN

Layden, William Hometown: Evanston, IL; New York University, NY

Lee, Theresa Hometown: West Nyack, NY; Yale Law School, CT

Levine, Benjamin Hometown: Oceanside, NY; University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA

Lewis, Jessica Hometown: Detroit, MI; Howard University, Washington, D.C.

Li, James Hometown: Cypress, CA; Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.

Lichtenheld, Emily Hometown: Austin, TX; University of Texas-Dallas, TX

Little, Bryan Hometown: Charlottesville, VA; University of Virginia, VA.

Loccoh, Emefah Hometown: Ypsilanti, MI; University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, MI

Mantha, Pryanka Hometown: Northridge, CA; University of California-San Diego, CA

Martin, Torri Hometown: Dublin, GA; Troy University, GA

May-Sealey, Alex Hometown: Baton Rouge, LA; Ole Miss, MS

McAllister, Ashkea Hometown: Marshall, MO; Howard University School of Law, Washington D.C.

McCoy, Kendall Hometown: Tahlequah, OK; Northeastern State University, OK

McCreary, Andrew Hometown: Salt Lake City, UT; Yale College, CT

McDonald, Sarah Hometown: St. Charles, IL; Washington University-St. Louis, MO

McKeown, Caitlin Hometown: Milwaukee, WI; George Washington University, Washington, D.C.

Meek, Shantel Hometown: Nogales, AZ; Arizona State University, AZ

Meier-Davis, Katherine Hometown: Buffalo, NY; George Washington University, Washington, D.C.

Mesco, Guenevere Hometown: Albuquerque, NM; University of Pennsylvania Law School, PA

Mills, Eric Hometown: Portland, OR; University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, NC

Monjay, Robert Hometown: Seattle, WA; American University, Washington, D.C.

Montalto, Steven Hometown: Westchester, IL; Benedictine University, IL

Morrice, Brian Hometown: Granville, OH; Bennington College, VT

Myrtetus, Maryrose Hometown: Bensalem, PA; Vassar College, NY

Nguyen, Thao Hometown: Washington, D.C.; George Washington University, Washington D.C.

Nistler, Zachary Hometown: Hutchinson, MN; South Dakota State University, SD

O’Halloran, Daniel Hometown: Chicago, IL; Columbia College Chicago, IL

Orizondo, Melissa Hometown: Lafayette, IN; Indiana University, IN

Owusukoko, Kimberly Hometown: Baltimore, MD; University of Baltimore-School of Law, MD

Palmer, Tiara Hometown: Washington, D.C.; Northern Virginia Community College, VA

Patel, Darshini Hometown: Palo Alto, CA; Wellesley College, MA

Prince, Lauren Hometown: Potomac, MD; Boston University, MA

Raithel, Silvia Hometown: Ann Arbor, MI; University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, MI

Ramani, Rathna Hometown: Sugar Land, TX; George Washington University, Washington, D.C.

Ramos, Jose Hometown: Chicago, IL; University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, IL

Rana, Yasmin Hometown: Oxon Hill, MD; Alabama State University, AL

Reilly, John Hometown: Hockessin, DE; University of Delaware, DE

Reinheimer, Sarah Hometown: Sacramento, CA; University of San Francisco, CA

Reynolds, Conor Hometown: Rochester NY; University of Rochester, NY

Roberts, Laurie Hometown: Amherst, MA; University of Massachusetts-Amherst, MA

Roberts, Alyssa Hometown: Denver, CO; Claremont McKenna College, CA

Rodrigo, Manishi Hometown: Alpharetta, GA; Temple University-Beasley School of Law, PA

Rocha, Victoria Hometown: Reno, NV; University of Nevada-Reno, NV

Ruiz, Alexis Hometown: Acworth, GA; University of Georgia, GA

**Salhotra, Neeraj Hometown: Houston, TX; Rice University, TX**

Sanders, Valentine Hometown: New York, NY; Macaulay Honors College-City University of New York, NY

Seen, Emily Hometown: Austin, TX; Princeton University, NJ

Segil, Jeanne Hometown: Highland Park, IL; Pomona College, CA

Serebin, Travis Hometown: Germantown, WI; University of Wisconsin-Madison, WI

Shah, Puja Hometown: Colonia, NJ; Kean University, NJ

Shapiro, Marissa Hometown: Syosset, NY; Tulane University, LA

Sharif, Zuheir Hometown: Sacramento, CA; Texas A&M University, TX

Shimm, Avram Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA; Claremont McKenna College, CA

Smith, Gregory Hometown: Buffalo, NY; University of Buffalo, NY

Smith, Nikolis Hometown: Claremont, CA; Sophia University, Japan

Souder, Antonika Hometown: Atlanta, GA; Agnes Scott College, GA

Spindler, Dana Hometown: San Francisco, CA; University of Washington, WA

Stinebring, Jesse Hometown: Oberlin, OH; Hamilton College, NY

Sun, Richard Hometown: Summit, NJ; Columbia University, NY

Syed, Omar Hometown: Tampa, FL; University of Florida, FL

Tausanovitch, Alexander Hometown: Lyme, NH; Yale Law School, CT

Taylor, Jesseca Hometown: Williamston, MI; Michigan State University, MI

Timmerhoff, Logan Hometown: Missoula, MT; University of Montana, MT

Tims, Desiree Hometown: Dayton, OH; Xavier University, OH

Tomaso, Michael Hometown: Chicago, IL; Illinois State University, IL

Toyama, Taryn Hometown: Fremont, CA; San Jose State University, CA

Truong, TuongVan Hometown: Philadelphia, PA; Temple University, PA

Ufkin, Anthony Hometown: Minnesota, MN; Minnesota State University, MN

Valliani, Amira Hometown: Fremont, CA; Yale University, CT

Villalba, Serena Hometown: Ann Arbor, MI; University of California-Los Angeles, CA

Warner, Jack Hometown: New York, NY; University of Michigan, MI

Weinberg, Matthew Hometown: Boston, MA; University of Washington, WA

Wells, Riley Hometown: Winder, GA; Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.

White, Antonio Hometown: Cleveland, OH; Morgan State University, MD

Wiley, Paul Hometown: Cheverly, MD; University of Virginia, VA

Williams, Ian Hometown: Naperville, IL; University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; IL

Williams, Ashley Hometown: Bowie, MD; Morgan State University, MD

Winkelvoss, Ryan Hometown: New Milford, CT; American University, Washington, D.C.

Young, Kimberly Hometown: Santa Barbara, CA; University of California-Los Angeles, CA

DA’s DWI Program Warns Drivers: Don’t Make the Big Game a ‘Stupor Bowl’
January 28, 2011

Houston, Tx – District Attorney Patricia Lykos announced Friday that the No Refusal Program, which obtained 489 warrants for mandatory blood draws from intoxicated drivers last year, will deploy during the Feb. 4-6 Super Bowl weekend to help keep Harris County residents safe from the lethal threats of DWI motorists. 

The alert follows 4 fatal crashes in December that led to criminal charges against intoxicated drivers.

Risks of DWI motorists typically rise during pre-Super Bowl festivities and the viewing of the game itself at private parties, sports bars or other drinking establishments. “As with all special occasions, enjoy the fun, but be smart and make sensible choices,” said Catherine Evans, Chief of the Vehicular Crimes Section of the District Attorney’s Office. “Designate a driver or use a cab or make other plans. But don’t decide to try to drive drunk.”

That wrong decision was made by 13,324 Harris County drivers charged with DWI in all of 2010. It was a slight decrease of 464 from the total DWI-related charges filed the prior year.

In December, county-wide law enforcement support for the No Refusal Program was reflected in the 17 police agencies that obtained a total of 110 warrants for mandatory blood draws.

Agencies included the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, Texas Department of Public Safety and County Constable’s Precincts 3, 4 and 8. The Houston Police Department had the highest number of warrants – 52. Other police departments obtaining No Refusal warrants included Tomball, Pasadena, Webster, La Porte, Friendswood, Bellaire, Deer Park, Humble, Port of Houston and Seabrook.

In the No Refusal program, prosecutors and support staff of the District Attorney’s Office work with police officers. They can obtain the warrants requiring blood testing for DWI suspects who refuse to provide breath samples for testing levels of intoxication. (end)

Statement by the President on NASA Day of Remembrance
January 28, 2011

 (From the White House and President Barack Obama on somber Challenger anniversary)

Fifty years ago, a young President facing mounting pressure at home propelled a fledgling space agency on a bold, new course that would push the frontiers of exploration to new heights.  Today, on this Day of Remembrance when NASA reflects on the mighty sacrifices made to push those frontiers, America’s space agency is working to achieve even greater goals.  NASA’s new 21st Century course will foster new industries that create jobs, pioneer technology innovation, and inspire a new generation of explorers through education – all while continuing its fundamental missions of exploring  our home planet and the cosmos.

Throughout history, however, we have seen that achieving great things sometimes comes at great cost and we mourn the brave astronauts who made the ultimate sacrifice in support of NASA missions throughout the agency’s storied history.  We pause to reflect on the tragic loss of the Apollo 1 crew, those who boarded the space shuttle Challenger in search of a brighter future, and the brave souls who perished on the space shuttle Columbia.   

Through triumph and tragedy, each of us has benefited from their courage and devotion, and we honor their memory by dedicating ourselves to a better tomorrow. Despite the challenges before us today, let us commit ourselves and continue their valiant journey toward a more vibrant and secure future.

KPRC Anchor Enjoys Three Times The Love
January 26, 2011

With all the focus on the five female KPRC Local 2 anchors who are pregnant and expecting babies any day now,  I didn’t want to overlook Channel 2’s newest anchor, Iain Page.

In November Iain  joined the station from the Golf Channel. He anchors the 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. newscasts.

Iain and his wife are the proud parents of  triplets.

That’s tree times the blessing or triple trouble, depending on your perspective.

Recently the good-looking boys were walking around the channel 2 newsroom saying hello to their Dad’s coworkers and familiarizing themselves with the station.

I jokingly asked Iain if he ever calls his boys #1, #2 and #3.  He promised me that not only can tell them all apart, he calls his sons by their given names.

No doubt you will one day see these cute kids running around the Houston Zoo, at Discovery Green or cheering for the Houston Rockets, Texans and Astros.

Make sure you say hello and welcome the three boys and their parents to Houston.

Excerpts from President Obama’s State of the Union Address
January 25, 2011

The White House has released excerpts from President Obama’s State of the Union: 

As Prepared for Delivery-

 With their votes, the American people determined that governing will now be a shared responsibility between parties. New laws will only pass with support from Democrats and Republicans. We will move forward together, or not at all – for the challenges we face are bigger than party, and bigger than politics. 

At stake right now is not who wins the next election – after all, we just had an election. At stake is whether new jobs and industries take root in this country, or somewhere else. It’s whether the hard work and industry of our people is rewarded. It’s whether we sustain the leadership that has made America not just a place on a map, but a light to the world. We are poised for progress. Two years after the worst recession most of us have ever known, the stock market has come roaring back. Corporate profits are up. The economy is growing again. 

But we have never measured progress by these yardsticks alone. We measure progress by the success of our people. By the jobs they can find and the quality of life those jobs offer. By the prospects of a small business owner who dreams of turning a good idea into a thriving enterprise. By the opportunities for a better life that we pass on to our children.  That’s the project the American people want us to work on. Together. 

Half a century ago, when the Soviets beat us into space with the launch of a satellite called Sputnik¸ we had no idea how we’d beat them to the moon. The science wasn’t there yet. NASA didn’t even exist.

 But after investing in better research and education, we didn’t just surpass the Soviets; we unleashed a wave of innovation that created new industries and millions of new jobs.

 This is our generation’s Sputnik moment.

New Book Gives Humorous Look into Federal Judge’s Courtroom
January 24, 2011

It’s not everyday that a federal judge writes a book about her experiences on the bench.  But United States Federal District Judge Vanessa D. Gilmore is no ordinary Jurist.

Over the years Judge Gilmore has developed a reputation for operating her courtroom with both a professional demeanor and personality-driven detail.

Both of  those traits are on display in her new book,  You Can’t Make This Stuff Up: Tales From a Judicial Diva.

Only a true diva would pose with a diamond encrusted gavel.

The book is billed as a humorous, autobiographical collection of  short stories about Judge Gilmore’s experiences interacting with attorneys and criminal defendants, including one who dressed as a king while on trial and another who flirted with Judge Gilmore.

At a recent Friday night book signing,  Judge Gilmore posed for photos,  signed copies of her book and entertained the crowd with funny stories recalling some of the colorful characters she’s encountered and crazy antics she’s witnessed inside her courtroom. 

Pauline and Jr. Higgins hosted the book signing at their home near Rice University. Faces in the crowd included Houston attorney Rufus Cormier,  Dr. Joanie Hare  and Carolyn Aiman.

This is Judge Gilmore’s second book.  I did a KPRC Local 2 story about her  first book, A Boy Named Rocky: A Coloring Book for the Children of  Incarcerated Parents.

If you are interested in purchasing either book or learning more about Judge Gilmore visit her website: http://www.vanessagilmore.com/book.html

HPD Officer Indicted for Multiple Sexual Assaults
January 20, 2011

(FROM THE HARRIS COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE)

 (Houston, Tx) A Houston Police Department officer has been indicted on two counts of aggravated sexual assault for incidents that occurred in early January. Abraham Joseph, 27, has been relieved of duty after the allegations surfaced late last week.

Prosecutors with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office Police Integrity Division presented the results of an investigation into Joseph’s conduct to the 232nd District Court Grand Jury Thursday. That Grand Jury returned indictments for the first degree felony offenses of aggravated sexual assault. Joseph faces up to life in prison for the offenses that are alleged to have occurred while he was in uniform.

District Attorney Pat Lykos confirmed the decision of the grand jury and lauded HPD for their prompt action once the allegations surfaced. “This man was a police officer who violated the public’s trust and dishonored his badge. He used his status as a public servant to sexually assault women. HPD Chief Charles McClellan has been extremely cooperative in this investigation, and we will continue to work together to ensure that the citizens of Houston and Harris County can trust and rely on the men and women

in uniform.”

Joseph will appear in court next week for arraignment. Prosecutors have requested that Joseph be held in lieu of $500,000 bond.