Archive for September, 2011

ICE arrests more than 2,900 convicted criminal aliens, fugitives
September 29, 2011

(NEWS RELEASE)

ICE arrests more than 2,900 convicted criminal aliens, fugitives in enforcement operation throughout all 50 states

125 of these arrests occurred in Houston area

HOUSTON – As part of the Obama administration’s ongoing commitment to prioritizing the removal of criminal aliens and egregious immigration law violators, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on Wednesday announced the results of a seven-day national “Cross Check” enforcement operation-which led to the arrest of more than 2,900 convicted criminal aliens.  Of these national arrests, 125 arrests were made in the Houston area of responsibility.

“The results of this targeted enforcement operation underscore ICE’s ongoing commitment and focus on the arrest and removal of convicted criminal aliens and those that game our nation’s immigration system,” said ICE Director John Morton. “Because of the tireless efforts and teamwork of ICE officers and agents in tracking down at large criminal aliens and fugitives, there are 2,901 fewer criminal aliens in our neighborhoods across the country.”

“The success of this operation is a testament to the commitment ICE has for prioritizing and arresting criminal aliens that pose a threat to our communities,” said Kenneth Landgrebe, field office director of ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) in Houston. “ICE officers and agents continue to work closely with our law enforcement counterparts to identify, locate and arrest dangerous individuals. Public safety is at the core of ICE’s mission.”

This seven-day operation, the largest of its kind, involved the collaboration of more than 1,900 ICE officers and agents from all of ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations’ (ERO) 24 field offices, as well as coordination with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners throughout the United States.  Arrests occurred in all 50 states and four U.S. territories.

All of the 2,901 individuals taken into custody had prior criminal convictions including at least 1,282 aliens who had multiple criminal convictions. More than 1,600 of those arrested had felony convictions including manslaughter, attempted murder, kidnapping, armed robbery, drug trafficking, child abuse, sexual crimes against minors, aggravated assault.  Of the total 2,901 criminal aliens arrested, 42 were gang members and 151 were convicted sex offenders.

In addition to being convicted criminals, 681 of those arrested were also immigration fugitives who had previously been ordered to leave the country but failed to depart.  Additionally, 386 were illegal re-entrants who had been previously removed from the country multiple times. Because of their serious criminal histories and prior immigration arrest records, at least 146 of those arrested during the enforcement action were presented to U.S attorneys for prosecution on a variety of charges including illegal re-entry after deportation, a felony which carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison.

ICE ERO officers and agents in the Houston area of responsibility made a total of 125 arrests:

Examples of those arrested in Houston include:

  • A 56-year-old man residing in Houston, Texas, from Mexico has a conviction for sexual assault of a child.
  • A 39-year-old woman residing in Houston, Texas, from El Salvador, two convictions for felony assault.
  • A 21-year-old man residing in Houston, Texas, from Honduras, was convicted of sexual assault on a child.
  • A 24-year-old woman residing in Angleton, Texas, from Guatemala, two convictions for possessing marijuana; and tampering with physical evidence.
  • A 19-year-old man residing in Navasota, Texas, from Mexico, convicted for possessing cocaine and criminal mischief.
  • A 33-year-old man residing in Houston, Texas, from Honduras, was convicted of sexual assault with a child.

ICE conducted the first successful Cross Check operation in December 2009, and has since conducted Cross Check operations in 37 states, including regional operations in the Southeast, Northeast and Midwest regions. In May, ICE conducted the first nationwide Cross Check operation. These previous Cross Check operations resulted in ICE arresting 4,506 convicted criminals, fugitives and aliens nationwide who have illegally re-entered the United States after removal.

Last week’s enforcement action was spearheaded by ICE’s National Fugitive Operations Program (NFOP), which is responsible for locating, arresting and removing at-large criminal aliens and immigration fugitives.  The officers who conducted last week’s operation received substantial assistance from ICE’s Fugitive Operations Support Center (FOSC) and ICE’s Law Enforcement Support Center (LESC) both located in Williston, Vt.

ICE is focused on smart, effective immigration enforcement that targets serious criminal aliens who present the greatest risk to the security of our communities, such as those charged with or convicted of homicide, rape, robbery, kidnapping, major drug offenses and threats to national security. ICE also prioritizes the arrest and removal of those who game the immigration system including immigration fugitives or those criminal aliens who have been previously deported and illegally re-entered the country.

# ICE #

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The Final Report is Released On Council Member Jolanda Jones
September 29, 2011

 Houston City Council Member Jolanda Jones must be breathing a sigh of relief.  A council review panel released its findings Thursday and cleared Jones of any major violations following complaints that she used her city office resources and staff to operate her private law firm.

The problems began when Jones passed out “Know Your Rights With the Police” cards at local community meetings. The cards listed both her council office phone number and a number for her legal practice.

The panel did conclude that “Jones used extremely poor judgement in listing her council officer telephone number on the card.” But the report also stated “There is no evidence that the council member was untruthful in her statements to the OIG.”

The panel did meet with Jones and ask her to take several remedial actions including “to conduct additional ethics training for her staff.”

I wasn’t assigned to cover Jones’ news conference but her statement is posted below:

Jones Statement: Since February, I have maintained that when the facts came to light, I would have acted within the acceptable standards of conduct and now, seven months after this process began, the District Attorney and the Mayor’s Review Panel have come to the same conclusion. 

I have never used my role as a council member to benefit anything or anyone other than the people I was elected to serve. The accusations made against me have been baseless and defamatory from the start. I do not practice civil law and have never represented anyone in a police brutality case. It is always good judgment to inform the public of their legal rights and for that, I take full responsibility.

As was finally acknowledged by the Review Panel today, this process allowed for multiple allegations against me to remain in the media and with the public for which the OIG never had the authority to make. I am disappointed in a process that allowed for this sort of negligence to occur.

I share the Review Panel’s concern regarding a lack of thoroughness in the OIG investigatory processes and it is my hope that changes will be made to prevent further situations that result in nothing more than waste and injustice.  

It is time for all of us to put political distractions aside and focus on the significant challenges this city faces. I have never lost sight of the needs of our citizens and I take very seriously my role as an advocate for the people of Houston. I have never backed down from a fight for what I believe is in the best interest of Houston and I will always take a stand on important issues. My commitment to the people of Houston remains unaffected. I will never stop speaking up for citizens that have no voice at city hall.

I look forward to continuing to work with the Mayor and my fellow council members to address the issues we were elected to resolve.

President Obama Advisor Valerie Jarrett Plans Trip To Houston
September 27, 2011

While Texas is considered republican and Governor Rick Perry territory, President Barack Obama and his supporters are enthusiastic and energetic about the upcoming election.
Next month, presidential advisor Valerie Jarrett will make a visit to Houston. (I had difficulty getting the invitation to print, but you can click the link)
 
 
 
 
J GOODWILLE PIERRE | 1102 Pinemont Dr. | Suite B | Houston | TX | 77018

Should You Have to Pay A Red Light Camera Ticket?
September 22, 2011

The city of Houston  has turned out the red light cameras and is fighting in court to prevent the camera company, American Traffic Solutions,  from trying to enforce a multi-million dollar contract.

In the meantime, motorists who were caught running red lights and received a ticket in the mail are still expected to pay the fine.

However, Houston attorney Randell Kallinen has announced that he is filing a federal class action lawsuit against Houston and Mayor Parker to nullify thousands of red light camera tickets issued after the election. 

More details will be announced at a news conference Friday morning. In the meantime -here is the press announcement.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
A class action lawsuit has been filed in a Houston federal court to stop the
enforcement and collection of thousands of Red Light Camera tickets issued after 181,000 Houston citizens voted to amend the City Charter in 2010 outlawing Red Light Cameras and after the City itself certified the election results.
“If a citizen pays their red light camera ticket they likely cannot get their money back even when this class action lawsuit is won.” said civil rights attorney Randall Kallinen. “If  Judge Hughes ruling throwing out the City-certified People’s Vote stands then the People of  Houston–conservative and liberal, black and white, Republican and Democrat–will have lost an important right to directly effect the way they are governed.”
After traffic data showed that Houston’s Red Light Cameras were dangerous and increasing accidents a majority of safety conscious Houston citizens voted out the Red Light
Cameras in the November 2010, election. After the election the Mayor and the City certified the election results and the cameras were turned off.
On July 9, 2011, Mayor Parker unilaterally turned the cameras back on without City
Council input and on July 24, 2011, the City began issuing Red Light Camera tickets at 70 RLC locations until August 24, 2011, issuing thousands of Red Light Camera tickets in violation of the People’s Vote.
“The City and Mayor need to respect the People’s Vote and if they do not someone has to stand up for the People.” said John Strangmeier, the plaintiff in the lawsuit.
Not only were the Red Light Cameras shown to increase accidents the total number of red light citations increased in the last year of operation echoing critic’s contentions that the Red Light Cameras did not decrease red light running. Many RLC intersections had their yellow light times so short that the citations were ten times that of the RLC intersections with TxDOT standard yellow light times.
 

Astronaut and Political Fundraiser
September 22, 2011

Astronaut Mark Kelly, husband of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, is scheduled to be the star attraction of a political fundraiser in November. 

Commander Kelly will appear in Houston on behalf of the Balance PAC, http://www.balancepac.com/

The event will help raise money to re-elect Harris County democratic party incumbents in 2012.

More details will be released at a later date.

Congresswoman Giffords is still recovering from the gunshot wound to the head she suffered in January 2011 at the hands of  suspected shooter Jared Loughner.

After spending several months in a Houston rehabilitation hospital, she has returned to her home district and is well enough to participate in votes and policy discussions critical to her constituents.

Commander Kelly was mentioned as a possible replacement for his wife in the event her medical condition prevented her from seeking re-election, however, Congresswoman Giffords is seeking another term.

Houston Police Arrest Man in 30 Year Old Unsolved Murder
September 22, 2011

Suspect Arrested 20 Years After Male’s Death at 6575 Ashcroft

 
Houston police have arrested a suspect charged in the fatal shooting of a man at 6575 Ashcroft on August 1, 1981.Jose Alfredo Gomez (H/m, DOB: 4-20-48) is charged with murder in the 185th State District Court.  He is accused in the death of Jose Rodrigo Aguiler, 37, of the above address, who suffered multiple gunshot wounds.  A photo of suspect Gomez is attached to this news release.

HPD Homicide Division Sergeant D. Ferguson reported:

Mr. Aguiler answered the door when Gomez visited him to apologize for an argument that had occured earlier in the evening.  According to witnesses, as the two spoke, Gomez pulled a pistol and shot Aguiler.  Aguiler began to fall but was caught by his wife, who then observed Gomez running down the stairs.  Gomez ran back up the stairs, shot Aguiler a second time in the chest and then fled the scene.

Additional interviews with witnesses identified the suspect and charges were filed against Gomez for murder.  Shortly after the murder, investigators attempted to locate and arrest Gomez, but were unsuccessful.

Recently, an investigator with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office Fugitive Apprehension Section was able to locate the suspect living in Houston.  Gomez was then arrested, with the assistance of the Gulf Coast Violent Offenders Task Force, in the 200 block of Heaney without incident.  Following his arrest, Gomez admitted to his role in the death of Aguiler.

Mayor Parker Names New Deputy Chief of Staff
September 21, 2011

Mayor Annise Parker has quietly made some Important behind the scenes changes in her administration.

In August, Darrin Hall was named deputy chief of staff.

His responsibilities include municipal courts IT, administrative and regulatory affairs, health and human services and the Houston Fire Department

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I meant to post this several weeks ago.
Darrin is a nice guy and I wish him the best of luck in his new role.

I’m waiting to see if the Mayor adds media management to his long list of responsibilities 🙂

New Sports Authority Members Appointed
September 21, 2011

Houston city council members approved a request from Mayor Annise Parker to appoint or reappoint several people to the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority Board of Directors on Wednesday.

Those appointed include: Philamena Baird, Mark Lee. Matthew Rogers, Gregory Compean and Stephen Fraga.

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After the appointments breezed through council, the appointees posed for pictures with supporters including Council member Jolanda Jones and Sue Schechter.

District Attorney Will Not Prosecute Council Member Jolanda Jones
September 20, 2011

STATEMENT FROM HOUSTON
CITY COUNCIL MEMBER JOLANDA JONES

From the start, I have maintained that when the facts came to light, I would have acted within the acceptable standards of conduct and was always confident that the District Attorney would come to the same conclusion. In the face of baseless accusations, I cooperated, was truthful, respectfully observed the city’s questionable process and consistently maintained the confidentiality that was required by the Mayor.

I have never used my role as a council member to benefit anything or anyone other than the people I was elected to serve.

It is time for all of us to put this distraction aside and focus on the significant challenges this city faces. I am again asking that the Review Panel bring this matter to a close.

As a council member, I have worked to expand economic opportunities and equality for all Houstonians. I negotiated a water rate and drainage fee that provided for increased fairness to the poor, seniors and the disabled and advocated for property rights and flooding mitigation across the city. I pushed for city leaders to recognize the will of the voters and turn off red-light cameras and I supported aggressive change for BARC and spoke up against police brutality. I have never backed down from a fight for what I believe is in the best interest of Houston and I will continue to work hard for positive change.

I want to take this opportunity to thank my family, my friends and the many Houstonians that have stood by me and never waivered in their support. I want to thank Lori Hood and Vivian King for their exceptional legal counsel throughout this process. I want to especially thank Council Member Bradford for his dedication to conducting the Review Panel fairly and ethically.

I have never lost sight of the needs of our citizens and I take very seriously my role as an advocate for the people of Houston. I will always take a stand on important issues and I will never stop speaking up for citizens that have no voice at city hall. I look forward to continuing to work with the Mayor and my fellow council members to address the issues we were elected to resolve

VA Offers Free Flu Shots for Veterans
September 19, 2011

(NEWS RELEASE)

While many people associate the flu with cold weather, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends getting a shot as soon as the vaccine becomes available. It is really never too early – or too late – to get vaccinated.

“It takes about two weeks for the protection to kick in after a flu shot is administered. While it may seem like the sooner the better, the greatest benefit of getting vaccinated now may be peace of mind,” said Primary Care Director Nicholas Masozera, M.D.

Free flu shots are now available for Veterans, Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston and its outpatient clinics in Beaumont, Conroe, Galveston, Lufkin, Richmond, and Texas City.

In Houston, patients should report to their Primary Care Clinic:

Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center, 2002 Holcombe Blvd. Houston, TX 77030

 

At the outpatient clinics, go to the front desk and a health care provider will administer flu shots:

Beaumont VA Outpatient Clinic, 3420 Veterans Circle, Beaumont, TX 77707

Conroe VA Outpatient Clinic, 800 Riverwood Ct, Ste 100, Conroe, TX 77304

Galveston VA Outpatient Clinic, 3828 Avenue N, Galveston, TX 77550

Charles Wilson VA Outpatient Clinic, Lufkin – Please call 936-671-4300 for scheduled flu shot clinics.

Richmond VA Outpatient Clinic, 22001 Southwest Freeway, Suite 200, Richmond, TX 77469

Texas City VA Outpatient Clinic, 9300 Emmett F. Lowry Expressway, Suite 206, Texas City, TX 77591

 

A new VA outpatient clinic in Lake Jackson will open for patient care on October 11, 2011. The clinic will be located at 208 South Oak Drive, Suites 700 and 800, Lake Jackson, 77566 near the Post Office and the Brazosport Regional Health System complex.

 

An average of 36,000 Americans die each year from influenza and many of them are the unvaccinated elderly. No vaccine is 100 percent effective, but the flu vaccine very clearly decreases the chance of severe illness, death, hospitalizations, and lost work days.

 

Flu shots do not cause flu illness. The influenza viruses contained in a flu shot are inactivated (killed), which means they cannot cause infection. Flu vaccine manufacturers kill the viruses used in the vaccine during the process of making vaccine, and batches of flu vaccine are tested to make sure they are safe. In randomized, blind studies, where some people get flu shots and others get salt-water shots, the only differences in symptoms was increased soreness in the arm and redness at the injection site among people who got the flu shot. There were no differences in terms of body aches, fever, cough, runny nose, or sore throat.

For more information about influenza and the flu vaccine, contact the Preventive Medicine Program at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center at 713-794-8768 or visit the CDC website at http://www.cdc.gov/flu.

And remember, it is important for everyone use good hygiene practices to prevent the spread of disease. Wash your hands frequently.