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Posts published in November 2012

Deputies distribute Thanksgiving food baskets to Aldine residents

(HOUSTON, TX) – Deputies from the Harris County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) Aldine Storefront and members of the HCSO’s Citizen Police Alumni (CPA) contucted their annual Operation Food Basket giveaway on Saturday, November 17, 2012.

For the event’s tenth anniversary the HCSO and CPA provided food baskets to 55 underprivileged families. The baskets consist of a complete Thanksgiving meal, including a turkey with all the trimmings, beverage and dessert.

The idea originated with Deputy Grace Luna back in 2002. She received a call from an area school teacher asking her for help with a little girl who was showing up to school with ragged clothes. When Dep. Luna delivered new clothes to the child she was told by the school counselor there were many more in similar situations whose family didn’t have much money for food much less for clothing.

Deputy Luna enlisted the help of fellow storefront deputies and members of the Citizens Police Academy in that area and began putting food baskets together. They started with about 5 or 7 families and the number has grown every year.

Family names are given to Deputy Luna by school counselors and Harris County deputies that patrol the East Aldine area and east Harris County.

This event is also sponsored by the generous donations from Walmart, Kroger, HEB and the East Aldine Management Team.

Greens Bayou CC hears legislative update from Representative Armando Walle

EAST ALDINE – The regular meeting of the Greens Bayou Corridor Coalition was held last Thursday, with reports from Executive Director Jill Boullion and State Representative Armando Walle.

Boullion reported on several clean-up work sessions. On Oct. 13th GBCC held its fourth clean-up in the West Reach, and planted 25 new trees. On Nov. 3rd, a work session was held in the East Reach, and with the help of Waste Management, cleaned Gardner’s Bayou and planted 50 new trees.

Boullion said that the technical services grant with the National Park Service had been renewed, and that GBCC was working on a paddle trail with the help of the Texas Parks and Wildlife department.

State Representative Armando Walle gave the group a preview of the next legislative session, which is due to start on January 8th in Austin. Walle is currently on the Insurance, Homeland Security, and Natural Resources committees.

Walle said the main issues that the legislature will deal with are Transportation, School Finance, Healthcare, and Water. Although the state will have more revenue this session that they had in the last session two years ago, nevertheless distribution of this money and adequate funding of these issues will be difficult and contentious, he thought.

For instance, transportation is underfunded, he said, and he expects fees will be increased for drivers license and tolls, to help pay for road construction and maintenance.

“Water will be a big issue in the next session,” he said. With population due to double in Texas by the year 2060, from 25 million to 50 million, this asset must be managed better. And the new process of recovering oil by “fracking” uses a lot of water, too.

Walle mentioned a bill that will be considered, that he thought the GBCC would be interested in, a so-called “bottle bill.” This would require a deposit on plastic and glass bottles, and drink cans, with the revenue allocated to clean-up the waste that collects in the bayous. The bill would need support from the flood control district, the county commissioners, and the Port of Houston Authority. The Port currently operates a “skimmer” boat to clean the bayous, but is unable to keep up with the large amount of trash.

The next meeting of the GBCC will be in January, Boullion said.

Gallegos’ open seat attracts many candidates

HOUSTON– State Senator Mario Gallegos won re-election on Nov. 6; however, his death left a seat open for senate district 6. This empty seat has attracted as many as 3 confirmed candidates.

Facing the battle to win the seat includes: State Representative Carol Alvarado, D-Houston, Democrats former county commissioner Sylvia Garcia and Gallego’s opponent in the past election, R. W. Bray, R-Houston.

Theresa Gallegos, the senator’s widow, said that her husband last wish was for Alvarado to succeed him.

In a public announcement made on Monday, Nov. 12 and along with Gallegos’ family and some supporters, Alvarado announced she is running to succeed Gallegos. She also said that Senator Gallegos had asked her to keep up the fight for good schools, good jobs, and affordable health care when he no longer could. Alvarado has six years of experience on the Houston City Council and has served two terms in the state House.

Sylvia Garcia also announced her candidacy after election results. Sylvia has the support of state representatives Armando Walle, Jessica Farrar and Ana Hernandez Luna. Garcia served for two terms as county commissioner.

Alvarado and Garcia are both strong opponents in this heavily Democratic district.

R.W. Bray will run again for district 6. He only got 29% of the vote in the past elections.

Gov. Perry will call for a special election, which could be before Christmas or by the beginning of February but before the next legislative session. At this special election, only names of the candidates will be listed and party nominees will be left out.

After the Storm

By Angie Liang

We Houstonians are no strangers to hurricanes. Living in former swamplands about an hour from the Gulf Coast, we’ve had to stock up on non-perishables and supplies, fill our bathtubs with water, board our windows, and evacuate. Our city has experienced major flooding, power outages, and even the loss of homes and lives. Recently, those on the East Coast experienced similar devastation. Sandy caused enormous damage, and some people lost everything.

The New York City area was hit particularly hard. Living next to Times Square, I was very lucky. While my office was closed for three days, other than flickering power, my apartment was fine. It was surreal, however, to witness for the second time since moving here, how empty and quiet the City That Never Sleeps had become because of a hurricane.

When we finally returned to work, one of my friends set up a volunteer effort for my team. With the little gas that we had, four of us made it down to the Rockaways early in the morning, with hot food and supplies – all generously donated by a local diner and colleagues.

We walked amidst the destruction, amazed not only by what was lost, but also by how many others had come out to help. We spent the day at a local church where the National Guard was also present, all of us organizing, distributing and delivering supplies. Despite being inside the building, we were very cold, which led us to worry about the dropping temperatures and wonder how residents would stay warm.

I have only these few words and pictures to share from my experience volunteering in the Rockaways. It will take a while for everyone to recover from Sandy, but what I saw growing up in Houston is very present here in New York: People helping people.

Election results in a “status quo”- Incumbents Obama, Sheriff Garcia, Senator Gallegos re-elected: Voter turnout heavy in most precincts

HARRIS COUNTY – Republican candidates took a great deal of the county and national votes, but not enought to unseat several incumbent Democrats the vote tally has revealed. Few substantive changes resulted, even after 18 months of expensive campaigning, and most commentators were referring to the final results as a return of the “status quo.”

But in important Harris County offices, voters decided to return Democrats Adrian Garcia as Sheriff, and Ken Jones over David Cruzan as Pct. 3 Constable. Alan Rosen won as Pct. 1 Constable over Joe Danna. Vote percentages were Garcia 53% vs Guthrie 45.2%, Rosen 59% vs Danna 36%, and Jones 63% vs Cruzan 37%.

Jack Cagle was re-elected as Pct. 4 Commissioner and El Franco Lee as Commissioner in Pct. 1. In the race for County Attorney incumbent Vince Ryan was re-elected with 51.5%, vs Robert Talton with 48.5%. Mike Anderson won the race for District Attorney, with 52.4% of the vote for this county office over Lloyd Oliver. Mike Sullivan was elected as Tax Assessor-Collector with 48.9% of the vote. Ann Bennett had 48.7%%.

In the national race for president, Obama had 303 Electoral College votes at press time, vs 206 for Romney. Only 270 are needed to win as president. Florida was still counting its votes, and has 29 Electoral positions. Television networks declared Obama the winner at 10:15 Central Time, after the Ohio results were available. The irony was that Romney led in the popular vote most of the evening, and when this announcement was made. However, the final tally showed the popular vote was for Obama, 61 million vs. Romney 58 million.

In state of Texas races, Ted Cruz was elected Senator to replace Kay Bailey Hutchison, with 57% of the vote vs 40% for Paul Sadler. Ted Poe, Kevin Brady, Sheila Jackson Lee, and Gene Green were returned as Congressmen.

State Representatives Armando Walle, Senfronia Thompson, Sylvester Turner, and Dan Huberty, representing this area, were returned to the State Legislature.

Gallegos Senate seat will require Special Election

One irony in the State Senate race was that deceased candidate Mario Gallegos received 71% of the vote, over opponent R. W. Bray. This means that the governor will have to call a special election, before the next legislative session. Possible candidates, who have declared they are runnning for the seat, include Democrats former county commissioner Sylvia Garcia, State Representative Carol Alvarado, and Gallegos’ opponent in this election, Republican R. W. Bray.

Barry Smitherman was re-elected as chairman of the important railroad commission, the misnamed agency that controls oil and gas production in the state. Smitherman was originally from Highlands.

Mike Parrott ran unopposed for Justice of the Peace and was re-elected.

The City of Baytown had 19 amendments on the ballot, and all were passed except #2, which called for a salary increase for the mayor and councilmen.

All the Bond Issues passed, despite increased taxes

All the bond issues passed, which means Houston Community College, Houston ISD, and the City of Houston will have funds for new construction, and most likely will raise taxes to pay for them. METRO passed a proposition that will give 1/4 of its sales tax revenue back to local cities for mobility improvements, and keep the rest for buses and debt repayments.

School Board Election in North Forest

North Forest ISD had two seats on the school board on the ballot, but for Position 4 Thaddeus Seals was unopposed. In Position 5, Linda Bell Robinson won over incumbent Albert Coleman. Robinson had 51% of the vote, Coleman 33% and JoAnna Love Casey received 11.9%.

Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart stated that 1,188,734 citizens voted, out of a total of 1,942,566 registered, for a 61.19% turnout. This figure is considered high for a general election, indicating the great interest in national and local races.

Founders Breakfast highlights reasons for start of Aldine Education Foundation

By LETICIA FEHLING

The Aldine Education Foundation (AEF) hosted a Founders Breakfast November 8 at the Hyatt North Houston to introduce the newly formed group to the business community.

AEF Board Co-Presidents Seth Sharr, an independent philanthropy professional, and Terry Williams, regional vice president of operations for H-E-B, welcomed more than 80 guests from area business and education sectors. Williams and Sharr also spoke on the need for community involvement in education.

“The purpose of the Aldine Education Foundation is to unite community leaders and district administrators and advance educational opportunities for students,” said Williams, a graduate of Aldine ISD. “Through innovative teaching grants and college scholarships, the Foundation seeks to promote academic achievement at all levels.

“This fall, we will award our first grants for teachers to pursue creative classroom programs that would not exist without supplemental funding.”

Sharr detailed how both the Aldine Education Foundation and the Aldine Scholarship Foundation joined forces to provide a path to higher education.

“Through the Scholarship Foundation, students receive support to attend any of six Lone Star College campuses,” explained Sharr. “Students may also apply for general scholarships at the school of their choosing with funds from the broader Education Foundation. We have a great opportunity to make higher education more accessible to students.”

Sharr and Williams recognized current donors:

Diamond Partner

East Aldine District

Platinum Partner

H-E-B

Silver Partner

Greenspoint District

BOSC Bond Underwriters

Beasley Tire Service

American Alloy Steel, Inc.

Thompson & Horton, LLP

Bronze Partner

Andrews Kurth, LLP

Omron Oilfield & Marine

Fulbright & Jaworski, LLP

Precept Wealth Management

Gil Hoffman

Nadine Kujawa

Terry Williams

Craig Brast

Bill Plummer

Dr. Wanda Bamberg

Priscilla Ridgway

Bracewell & Guiliani

Star Partner

John and Kathryn Amshoff

Rose Avalos

Borden Dairy

Enterasys Networks

Jocklynn Keville

Jeff Hartmann

Lisa McBride

Dr. Archie Blanson

Right before the breakfast, Bracewell & Guiliani donated at the Bronze Level. Williams took a moment to highlight the East Aldine Management District and H-E-B for contributing at the $25,000 Diamond Partner Level and $10,000 at the Platinum Partner, respectively.

“Without all of your gifts, we would not be able to fulfill this important mission,” expressed Williams.

Dr. Benny Lambert, vice president of student services at Lone Star College-North Harris, served as the keynote speaker. Lambert discussed the importance of community involvement in education.

Several faculty, alumni and AISD administrators shared Aldine ISD’s story and discussed the importance of community involvement. Samantha Tate, music teacher at Kujawa Elementary School, and Evelyn Clayton, Rodeo Institute for Teacher Excellence (RITE) Trainer at Conley Elementary School, both related how grants have provided students with a variety of experiences and opportunities at the classroom and campus levels.

Guests also heard from several AISD graduates who shared their stories about how grants and scholarships gave them the opportunity to attend college.

“Money really is a factor for students in Aldine ISD in determining whether they will attend college or attend the college of their choice,” said Dimitri Mayes, a sophomore at Rice University studying civil engineering. “Without the help of scholarships, I don’t know how I could have attended the college of my choice. I am really, really grateful. Every amount received whether small or large is helpful.

“I am so happy to hear about the Aldine Education Foundation. It is great to know that this organization will help other students in the district. We are the future and it is nice to know people are investing in us.”

Leslie Marín, who is currently attending Lone Star-North Harris, shared her overwhelming gratitude on receiving a scholarship that helped her enroll to attend college. Marín’s story and genuine appreciation brought many in the room to tears.

“I had been applying and applying for one scholarship and another without obtaining one,” said Marín. “I was so worried about whether or not I would be able to attend college. Then I received a SHABE (Suburban Houston Association for Bilingual Education) scholarship. I remember crying and I still cry to this day. You have no idea how much this helped me to get started on my dream to pursue a college education and become a teacher.”

University of Houston business major Lupe Salas also shared his gratitude on receiving scholarships.

“I am so grateful to those who provided me with scholarships to help me earn my college education,” shared Salas.

After hearing from the students and teachers, a seven-minute video about Aldine ISD played for the audience. The video elaborated the district’s demographics, programs and services as well as the financial challenges with decreased state revenue. Following the video presentation, Aldine ISD Superintendent Dr. Wanda Bamberg shared a few words and encouraged community members to help support Aldine ISD students.

“Our staff members work very hard to meet the needs of our students,” stated Bamberg. “But with budget cuts it is becoming increasingly more difficult. We have had to cut or reduce a number of programs and services due to less revenue. With your help, you can help provide opportunities for our students in the classroom and give them the chance to pursue a college degree. I sincerely hope you will be an Aldine Education Foundation donor.”

Williams encouraged attendees to make a contribution to the Aldine Education Foundation.

“We hope to create more stories like the ones you heard today from students and teachers,” said Williams. “By helping students and teachers you are supporting economic growth. By funding innovative classroom projects, giving students opportunities to continue their education you are helping expand our trained workforce.”

Sharr again thanked all the donors and announced that all founding sponsors at the Platinum and Diamond levels will be recognized at the Aldine Administration Building by having a plaque hang prominently at the front entrance of the building.

“We are excited to embark on this journey together, and we ask for your continued support,” concluded Sharr.

A special thanks goes out to Ben Wilson, AISD superintendent of community and governmental relations; Dr. Archie Blanson, AISD Deputy Superintendent; Chris Labod, AISD administrative assistant of public information, as well as Dr. Milli Christner and Laurie Cromwell of Foundation Innovation for contributing to the success of the Aldine Education Foundation.

For more information on how to donate, visit www.AldineEducationFoundation.org or call (281) 985-6078.

Debbie Phelps joins local after-school supporter CASE to promote National Parent Involvement Day

Aldine Superintendent Bamberg joins Phelps, local leaders for panel discussion

Swim mom Debbie Phelps, mother of Olympian Michael Phelps, partners with the Cooperative for After-School Enrichment (CASE) to promote National Parent Involvement Day on Nov. 15 from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Houston Garden Center, 1500 Hermann Circle Drive, Houston, Texas.

Keynote speaker Phelps shares her success story as a single mother of three. Her insight as an educator provides testimony to the difference a parent can make in a child’s education.

Joining Phelps in a question-and-answer panel session are local leaders Aldine Superintendent Wanda Bamberg; Frost Bank Vice President of Community Development Joyce Tyler-Williams; and Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Laura G. Murillo. KHOU-TV News Anchorwoman Shern-Min Chow is moderator.

The event includes lunch and a parent resource fair. Tickets are $35 with discount available for students (with ID).

For information or to register, go to www.afterschool zone.org or call (713) 696-1360.

About the Cooperative for After-School Enrichment, or CASE: CASE, a division of Harris County Department of Education, provides and supports after-school programs in 100 after-school sites in greater Harris County for over 12,000 students in grades pre-k through 12. Access www.after schoolzone.org for more information.

Election Day Nov. 6th sees close races in local and national scene

Early voting finished last Friday, and according to Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart, almost two-thirds of the voters that are anticipated to vote in this election have already done so, through Early Voting and Absentee Balloting. This amounts to about 700,000 votes, he said. The rest of the voters will exercise their choices on Nov. 6th, Election Day. The polls will be open from 7 am to 7 pm. Stanart urges everyone to check their polling location before going to the polls, because he said that about 20% of the locations have changed this year, due to redistricting by the state legislature last year.

The ballot this year is long and complicated, with a number of national and local candidates, and many bond issues and referendums included for some or all areas of the county.

General Election

This is of course a general election, set for Tuesday, November 6th from 7 am to 7 pm.

National candidates will include a U. S. President, either Democrat Barack Obama or Republican Mitt Romney. Their running mates are Joe Biden for VP, or Paul Ryan. Also running are Libertarian Gary Johnson and Green Party Jill Stein.

For U. S. Senator to replace retiring Kay Bailey Hutchison, voters have a choice of Republican Ted Cruz, Democrat Paul Sadler, Libertarian John Jay Myers, or Green Party David Collins.

For U. S. Representative in the 18th Texas District, the incumbent Democrat Sheila Jackson-Lee will face either Republican Sean Seibert or Libertarian Christopher Barber. In the last election in 2010 Jackson-Lee received 70% of the vote.

For U. S. Representative in the 29th District, incumbent Democrat Gene Green has no Republican challenger, but faces opposition from Libertarian James Stanczak, and Green Party’s Maria Selva.

In State Senate District 6, Mario Gallegos Jr. was running against Republican R. W. Bray. However, Gallegos died on October 16th of complications of kidney disease. Due to the timing, his name is still on the ballot. If he collects the most votes, the Governor is expected to call a special election. In that case you might see the name of former County Commissioner Sylvia Garcia on the ballot, or State Representative Carol Alvarado. However, if Bray wins there will not be any need for a special election, he will have the seat. In State District 13, incumbent Rodney Ellis is running unopposed.

In State House races, in District 139 Democrat Sylvester Turner is running against Republican Sam Brocato. In District 140, Democrat Armando Walle is running unopposed. In District 141 incumbent Democrat Senfronia Thompson is running against Republican Michael Bunch. In the last election in 2010, Thompson received 76% of the vote. In the State Legislature, she holds a powerful position as Chair of the local calendar committee, which b enefits Harris County.

In Harris County offices, in the District Attorney race has Democrat Lloyd Oliver running against Republican Mike Anderson, who upset the incumbent Pat Lykos in the primary. Anderson is a former prosecutor in the District Attorney’s office.

For County Attorney, incumbent Democrat Vince Ryan faces Republican Robert Talton. Ryan has been active recently in filing lawsuits against environmental polluters, and sexually oriented businesses. Talton’s campaign, and that of judicial candidate Bud Wiesedeppe, have received donations from several of these businesses associates, it has been learned, apparently hoping to unseat Ryan.

For Harris County Sheriff, incumbent Democrat Adrian Garcia faces Republican Louis Guthrie and Green Party Remington Alessi. It was recently revealed that the owners of the Treasures Mens Club gave a large donation to the Harris County Deputies Organization, which then donated the money to Guthrie’s campaign, raising ethical and legal questions that have yet to be answered. Also, others associated with the Treasures Club have donated directly to several

In the race for County Tax Assessor-Collector, well known Republican politician and city councilman Mike Sullivan is running against Democrat Ann Bennett and Libertarian Jess Hopson.

Harris County Commissioner for Pct. 1 has incumbent Democrat El Franco Lee facing Republican Chuck Maricle. In Pct. 4, incumbent Republican Jack Cagle is running against Democrat Sean Hammerle. Cagle was appointed by the County Commisioners last year to fill the rest of the term of Jerry Eversole, who resigned.

In Pct. 1 Constable’s race, Democrat Alan Rosen faces Republican Joe Danna. Also running are Libertarian James Lancaster and Green Party Carlos Villalobos.

In the Pct. 3 Constable race, the incumbent Democrat Ken Jones is running against Republican challenger David Cruzan.

School Board Election for North Forest

An interesting local race will be for positions on the North Forest School Board. For Position 4, Thaddeus Seals is running unopposed. For Position 5, the incumbent Albert Coleman is running against two opponents, Linda Bell Robinson and JoAnna Love Casey. North Forest is continuing in its efforts to remain independent and satisfy the criticisms of the Texas Education Agency.

Bond Issues and Referendums

Also on the ballot will be a METRO referendum to choose how the 1 cent sales tax is used. A vote FOR this proposition will mean that the money will continue to be divided between local municipalities, including Houston, for road improvements and mobility projects, in addition to the money that METRO gets for buses and debt reduction. A vote AGAINST this proposition means that the total amount of money goes to METRO, for use in all their projects including light rail.

The City of Houston will have two Propositions regarding revisions in wording of certain laws. More importantly they will have 5 Propositions, A to E, regarding issuing of bonds to pay for public safety facilities, parks, public health, libraries, and housing. They state that this money is needed to keep facilities up to date and to meet new demands from a growing population. They claim that no additional taxes will be required to meet these bond obligations, although the language of the propositions does say that new taxes can be levied.

Houston ISD will have a proposition asking to authorize bonds for construction totalling $1.89 billion dollars. This is to bring secondary and high schools up to date, add on to some, and give overdue maintenance to many of the schools.

Houston Community College will present a bond request proposition for $425 million for new facilities.