Archive for April, 2011

Former President H.W. Bush Praises Crocker’s Appointment as Ambassador
April 28, 2011

 

 

 

 

STATEMENT BY FORMER PRESIDENT GEORGE H. W. BUSH
ON THE APPOINTMENT OF BUSH SCHOOL DEAN RYAN CROCKER
AS U.S. AMBASSADOR TO AFGHANISTAN

 


HOUSTON, TX — The following is a statement released by former President Bush 41:

“President Obama has chosen wisely in nominating a diplomat of Ryan Crocker’s experience and consummate skill as Ambassador to Afghanistan, and Barbara and I salute our friend Ryan for once again answering his country’s call to service.  While Ryan will be sorely missed by all of us at the Bush School, we look forward to his return as dean when his tour of duty is completed.”

STATEMENT BY AMBASSADOR RYAN CROCKER
ON HIS APPOINTMENT AS U.S. ENVOY TO AFGHANISTAN


COLLEGE STATION, TX — The following is a statement released by former President Bush 41:

“I am deeply honored to have the confidence of the President, the Vice President and the Secretary of State for this important mission. The challenges are formidable and the stakes are high.  9/11 came to us out of Afghanistan; our enemy must never again have that opportunity.  I thought I had found a permanent home as Dean of the Bush School at Texas A&M. But we are a school of public service, and I am proud to answer this call to serve.
 
Over nine years ago, I had the privilege of reopening our Embassy in Kabul after the fall of the Taliban. If confirmed, I look forward to returning to build on what has been achieved in recent months, working with the courageous men and women at our Embassy, in our military, with our NATO allies and the UN and especially with the people of Afghanistan.  I look forward to rejoining my old battle buddy, Dave Petraeus, however briefly, and am delighted that I will have the opportunity to carry forward with another good friend and comrade, General John Allen.”

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City Begins Notifying Employees of Layoffs
April 28, 2011

Thursday morning, Mayor Annise Parker confirmed she would be forced to layoff city employees when she sent a letter out to council members and department heads.

KPRC Local 2 is working on this story and will have updates later today:

I’ve posted the Mayor’s letter below:

Information Regarding Implementation of Departmental Layoff Plans

4/28/11

 

  • This is a sad day, as it marks the start of the various departmental layoffs needed to reduce operating expenses in order to balance the City budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2011. We have known this day was coming for weeks, but that doesn’t make it any easier.
  • These are very tough decisions for everyone involved because we know that lives are being impacted – that people are losing their livelihoods due to no fault of their own. Unfortunately, we have to make these tough decisions so that we can move this great city through the tough times.
  • There will be some service reductions as a result of these layoffs. However, every possible avenue is being explored to minimize the impact of those reductions on citizens.
  • The budget for the coming fiscal year remains a work in progress, with public safety being our number one priority. The goal is to avoid layoffs in that area.
  • We are forced to begin providing layoff notices to the employees in non-public safety areas now in order to meet all legal requirements. Each employee must be given notice at least 45 days in advance of his/her termination date.
  • The current plan calls for departments to issue layoff notices between now and May 17, 2011.
  • All affected employees will remain on the payroll through July 1, 2011. Some will continue reporting to their job sites until that date. Exceptions will be made on a limited basis consistent with the best interests of the City.
  • Department directors have been instructed to be lenient with employees who may need time off for job hunting responsibilities between now and their termination date. Various job placement services and counseling are being offered.
  • We have kept the HOPE Union informed throughout this entire process. In addition, HOPE is working with our legal and human resources departments to provide additional transitional assistance for its members.
  • Economic improvements seen in the last month or so have allowed us to reduce the number of planned layoffs by more than half. If there is further improvement, it is possible that some of the remaining planned layoffs could be reversed.
  • Houston is still better off than most other cities in the nation. The signs of economic improvement we are seeing today provide assurance that the brighter tomorrow we wait for is just around the corner.

Who’s Who In Black Houston Unveiled
April 26, 2011

KPRC-TV meteorologist Khambrel Marshall served as the evening’s  emcee and dozens of  our city’s movers and shakers attended the official unveiling reception for Who’s Who in Black Houston.

Led by publisher Vernita Harris and the Urban League’s Judson Robinson, who wrote the book’s forward remarks, this is the fifth edition of  Who’s Who In Black Houston. The book spotlights the achievements of  successful men and women who are making a difference in the Houston community.

Some of the honorees include Metro’s Terence Fontaine, the City of  Houston’s Omar Reid, Dallas Jones of Elite Change, HoustonWorks USA CEO Larry Green, Lobbyist Dwight Boykins, and Ft Bend Democratic Party Chair Stephen Brown. Many more Houston powerbrokers also attended including,Houston Controller Ronald Green, Pastor D.Z Cofield, Thomas Jones and Genora Boykins of Reliant Energy.

In addition to honoring successful Houstonians, the Who’s Who in Black Houston book also serves as a historical document  for young people.  That is why the publisher created a new campaign called, “one thousand books for one thousand kids.”  Companies and individuals are encouraged to buy several copies of the book and distribute them to local schools and children for use as an educational tool.

The pages of the book are filled with photographs and stories of  role models leading successful lives in all areas of the greater Houston community.

Mayor Parker Kickoffs Re-Election Campaign
April 24, 2011

Houston Mayor Annise Parker made it official on Saturday by announcing that she is running for a second term in office. 

The mayor’s re-election campaign held a public rally at Discovery Green and hundreds of  people attended to  lend their support, including Carl Davis who was kind enough to send me a photo.

The election is in November and no one other than Mayor Parker has officially announced as a candidate for the city’s top job.  The Mayor is in a good position. She’s raised more than one-million dollars and  she has assembled a campaign team to help carry her message forward.

Here’s what the Houston Chronicle had to say about the Mayor’s announcement:

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/7534658.html

Gov. Perry Declares Days of Prayer for Rain in Texas
April 21, 2011

(From Governor Perry’s Press Office)

AUSTIN – Gov. Rick Perry has proclaimed the three-day period from Friday, April 22, to Sunday, April 24, as Days of Prayer for Rain in the State of Texas, following extreme drought conditions that have sparked dangerous wildfires across the state, which have taken lives, engulfed more than 1.8 million acres and destroyed nearly 400 homes.

 “Throughout our history, both as a state and as individuals, Texans have been strengthened, assured and lifted up through prayer,” Gov. Perry said. “It is fitting that Texans should join together in prayer to humbly seek an end to this ongoing drought and these devastating wildfires, and for the safety of the brave firefighters and emergency management officials who have worked tirelessly to protect lives and property around the state.” 

Gov. Perry urges Texans of all faiths and religious traditions to offer prayer for the healing of the land, rebuilding of communities and the restoration of our normal and robust way of life in Texas.

 To view the proclamation, please visit http://governor.state.tx.us/news/proclamation/16038/

You Don’t Have To Be Jewish To Appreciate This Passover Seder
April 20, 2011

It has become one of the most popular social and religious celebrations in Houston. A night when members of the Hittner family open their hearts to share their tradition and faith with grateful friends.

For the eleventh year, Judge David Hittner and  Dr. Helen Mintz-Hittner, along with their son George and his new bride, Erica, hosted a Second Night of Passover Seder.  

They invited a large group of Jewish and non-Jewish friends and family to celebrate the evening at Damian’s Cucina Italiana

Traditionally, George serves as the leader throughout the evening and calls on people to read passages from the Haggadah, which tells the story of the Jewish people’s exodus from Egypt and out of bondage.

This was my third year attending the Hittner Seder.  I remain impressed by how the family manages to strike a balance between a solemn commemoration and a heartwarming, almost jovial, atmosphere.

The food is just as important as the reading of the text.   The menu consisted of the  Hittner family recipe of  “chicken with seeds,”  matzoh ball soup, haroset, unleavened bread, sour pickles, my favorite cheesecake dessert and a lot of  wine.

The evening ended with the reading of the poignant final sentence in the Haggadah, “Next Year In Jerusalem!!” 

There were a lot of friendly and familiar faces attending the Hittner Family 2nd Night of Passover Seder:  Jim Grace, Ted Cruz, Carl Davis, Jessica Colon, Bob and Carol Martin, David and Adriana Bain, Sonia Soto, Mustafa Tameez,Catarina Gonzales Cron, Bob Jones and many more.

2011 Oustanding Houston Texas Exes Celebration
April 19, 2011

What happens when you get Bevo and a bunch of  Texas Exes together under one roof?   It turns into a true Longhorn celebration, Polynesian style.

While Bevo posed for pictures outside of the River Oaks Country Club, members of the Houston Texas Exes chapter partied inside to honor former UT President Larry Faulkner and his wife,  Mary Ann, as the Outstanding Houston Texas Exes for 2011.

The evening featured a Hawaiian theme complete with fresh burnt orange and white leis, island dancers and music.  The celebration benefited the Houston Texas Exes Scholarship Fund.

Led by Chapter President Julie Long, the event highlighted the Faulkner’s partnership, passion and tireless effort and support to the advancement of  The  University  of Texas and the City of Houston.  Larry Faulkner currently serves as the President of the Houston Endowment and oversees its support of hundreds of charitable and nonprofit organizations across the city.

In addition to the Faulkners and their two children, faces in the crowd included; Ginger and Jack Blanton, Adrianna and David Bain (who are expecting their second bundle of joy!) and many others.

Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’ “Hero” Intern Honored In Houston
April 18, 2011

Congressional intern Daniel Hernandez was honored in Houston Sunday for his role in saving the life of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords after she was shot in the head during a political event in January.

Hernandez was honored at a champagne brunch hosted by the Victory Fund, a group dedicated to raising money and training members of the Gay, Lesbian and Transgender community to run for political office.

Hernandez, who is openly gay, is credited with applying pressure to Giffords’ wound to help stop the blood loss and staying by her side until she was rushed to the emergency room.

Giffords is recovering in a Houston hospital, TIRR Memorial Hermann, and has talked with Hernandez by phone several times. 

Houston Mayor Annise Parker,  Rhode Island Congressman David Cicilline and New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, some of the country’s most prominent  openly gay elected officials, were also recognized during the brunch.

Meanwhile, the champagne brunch attracted a huge crowd of people from all segments of  Houston’s diverse community. 

 

Others in the crowd included:  Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Sheriff Adrian Garcia, Houston City Council member Brenda Stardig, HISD Trustee Juliet Stipeche, Cindy Clifford of The Clifford Group, Lea Gibson from Republic Services, Shell Oil Company’s Karen Labat, Roland and Karen Garcia, Frances Page of Style Magazine, Brooks Ballard, Trevor Eade,  Alton LaDay, LaRence Snowden,, Emily Suchomel and many, many more.

City Opens 5th Playground Without Limits
April 17, 2011

Saturday’s sunny beautiful weather was the perfect backdrop for the opening of a new playground that allows physically and sensory disabled children to enjoy a sense of  freedom and pride.

The city of Houston celebrated the grand opening of the new Vale-Asche Foundation Playground Without Limits located at the Metropolitan Multi-Service Center on West Gray Street.

 It’s the second barrier – free playground funded by the foundation and the fifth of its kind in Houston.

Mayor Annise Parker, City Council member Wanda Adams, Houston Parks Director Joe Turner, Philanthropist Dr. Carolyn Farb and members of the Vale and Asche families attended the ribbon cutting.

This multi-service center has become a one-stop service location for people with disabilities.  In addition to the playground, Houstonians will also have access to programs and services targeted to their needs both inside and outside of the building.  The addition of the Vale-Asche Foundation Playground, the refurbished Beep Baseball Field and Tennis Courts and the new Adaptive Trail will extend the recreational and exercise programs we can offer our users,” said Joe Turner, Director of Houston Parks and Recreation Department.

Others who attended the event include: Gail Brown, Michael Pearce, Matt Burrus, Ms. Wheelchair America Alexandra McArthur and Bernard Francis.

Could Houston Get A Second Shot At A Retired Shuttle?
April 15, 2011

(news release)

CONGRESSWOMAN SHEILA JACKSON LEE AND CONGRESSMAN AL GREEN INTRODUCE LEGISLATION TO OVERRIDE NASA SPACE SHUTTLE ORBITER PLACEMENT DECISION

 

LEGISLATION WOULD MOVE ORBITER TO HOUSTON!

 

WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, a longtime advocate for NASA and former member of the House Science Committee, and Congressman Al Green, a senior member of the House Financial Services Committee, introduced legislation that would temporarily loan the Space Shuttle Discovery to the Space Center Houston for 15 years.  Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee issued the following statement regarding her legislation:

“Both Houstonians and millions of Americans across the country were devastated this past week by the news that Space Center Houston was not selected to be a permanent home to one of the space shuttle orbiters.  This legislation is in line with the official designation that allows the federal government to provide assistance to NASA centers that were drastically impacted by the diminished NASA mission.  This legislation would temporarily set aside the decision to dispose of the Discovery shuttle and instruct Gen. Bolden and NASA to temporarily “loan” the Discovery shuttle to the appropriate location in Houston, Texas for a period of 15 years.  This legislation fits squarely under that interpretation.”

“The Smithsonian is America’s museum.  Over the years of their history, they have readily loaned major U.S. artifacts to the American people.  What better community to host an orbiter than Houston, Texas.  This is common sense legislation that no one should oppose. The next step is to set a meeting with General Bolden, representatives of the White House, and the leadership of the Smithsonian Museum to secure their agreement for this very sensible approach that will pay tribute to the families whose loved ones lost their lives in service to their Nation.  We expect to have the support and advocacy of all of our colleagues.  Several Members of Congress who do not live in Texas were shocked by the loss of the orbiter to Houston.  Therefore, I am delighted to introduce this bi-partisan legislation that creates the right kind of solution.  America is a great country.  It is a fair country, and this is a solution that is both great and fair.”

Congressman Al Green issued the following statement on the legislation: 

“The goal of this bill is to reverse an unjust decision which would have an adverse economic impact on the city of Houston.  The Johnson Space Center (JSC) and its committed workforce have been a key component of the space shuttle program since it started in the 1980’s. Additionally, the successful monitoring of more than 100 missions from JSC and the fact that Houston, as well as its surrounding areas, have been the training grounds and home for our admired and beloved astronaut corps, are proof that we have provided America with an invaluable service that has made our country the world leader in space exploration.  These facts should serve as enough merit for JSC to receive ‘Discovery’ but we must also keep in mind that, if one of the space shuttle orbiters were sent to JSC, NASA would actually be giving the American people a better set of options to view and learn about the shuttle fleet from a geographic standpoint. “

“Considering ‘Enterprise’ will be on display at the California Science Center; ‘Atlantis’ will be showcased at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center, and ‘Discovery’ and ‘Endeavour’ are scheduled to be sent to the Smithsonian Museum in Washington (DC) and to New York’s Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum, respectively, the west and the east coast regions get a shuttle, whereas the northeast region gets two. I think it would be much more beneficial for the American people that the Midwest region would receive one of these legendary space vehicles. Based on this rationale, JSC is the most logical and deserving destination.”

Additionally, any costs associated with the relocation of the shuttle will come from the appropriations allocated to NASA for the purposes of transitioning the shuttles.  This week, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and Congressman Al Green also wrote a letter to Administrator Bolden expressing their disappointment with his decision, and asking him to consider loaning the orbiter to Space Center Houston.