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Posts published in March 2010

Griner breaks NCAA record at national tournament


On Nov. 11, 2008 Nimitz High’s Brittney Griner blocked 25 shots against Alief Hasting, setting a national high school record.

Last week she added another notch to her six-shooter, blocking an NCAA-record 14 shots to help the Number 4 seed Baylor Bears defeat the Number 5 seed Georgetown Hoyas 49-33 in the second round of the national tournament.

She also holds the NCAA single-season record with 199 blocked shots.

Griner shattered the previous single-game record of 11 set in 1989 by UNLV’s Pauline Jordan.

What is remarkable is how the 6’8” freshman broke the record.

Finding herself in foul trouble early, Griner had limited playing time in the first half with just seven minutes on the court and recording just one block.

Then in the second half, she exploded for 13 more blocks.

At one point Griner held the Hoyas to more than 10 minutes of play without making a point, forcing 15 missed shots.

The Hoyas were shutdown by Griner who possesses an 88” wingspan (that’s 7’4”). Most people have a wingspan (or length of arm and fingertip to fingertip of the other side) equal to their height. In the victory, Griner blocked more shots than Georgetown had baskets for the game.

Griner also scored seven points and had seven rebounds in 27 minutes of play.

The win over Georgetown positioned Baylor for a Sweet 16 match-up with Tennessee, who is ranked the Number 1 seed in the tournament. While the two schools have not played very often, their meetings have been memorable. Tennessee was one of the universities that heavily recruited Griner. However, it was Baylor who Griner made a verbal commitment to back when she was a junior and when signing time came her senior year she made good on that commitment.

Tennessee got some revenge on losing the player selected by “USA Today” as the National High School Player of the Year by beating Baylor in their season opener 74-65.

If Baylor can hold off the Volunteers to advance to the Elite 8 the school can avenge a Sweet 16 loss to Tennessee in 2004.

Griner has also become an Internet superstar with viral videos showing her ability to dunk the ball. She is only the second woman in NCAA history to dunk the ball twice in one game.

Rep. Gene Green Votes in Support of Health Care Reform


Rep. Gene Green voted in support of H.R. 3590, The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and H.R. 4872, The Reconciliation Act of 2010.

Rep. Green released the following statement in support of the legislation:

“While no bill is perfect, my greatest concern is ensuring that the people of our district have greater access to healthcare. Your health care decisions shouldn’t be made by the government or by an insurance company. Your health care decisions should be made by you. This bill expands coverage to 30 million U.S. citizens including 223,500 in our district.

This is middle-of-the-road legislation that builds on the private insurance system that we current have. This is also a market-based approach, not a government takeover or government option, that utilizes insurance exchanges to pool individuals together – who don’t have employer-based insurance and would otherwise be on their own to secure insurance – in order to reduce exorbitant premiums. The legislation includes significant consumer protections and improves Medicare benefits for 56,000 seniors in our district.

In addition 217,000 residents in our district will receive improved employer-based coverage, 34,500 residents will no longer be denied coverage for preexisting conditions and no one will be denied coverage because of health status or gender. The time for health reform has come and these benefits to our district are essential.”

Editor’s Note: Gene Green is the Democratic Congressman from District 29. The district includes Baytown (south of I-10), Channelview, South Houston and Northeast Harris County. He has served in Congress since 1992.

Congressman Ted Poe: The government control of healthcare in unconstitutional


Congressman Ted Poe presented the following speech on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives on Mar 20.

Mr. Speaker, the Constitution of the United States of America was written by our Founding Fathers to limit the size of government. The Constitution sets limits on what the government can do for us and what the government can do to us.

The people decide what is best for themselves and our country, not the all-seeing eye of the federal government. James Monroe said in 1788 at the Virginia convention to ratify the United States Constitution, “how prone all human institutions have been to decay, how difficult it has been for mankind in the ages and countries to preserve their dearest rights and best privileges, imperiled as they were by an irresistible fate of tyranny.”

Now the tyrannical all-seeing eye of the federal government is trying to take care of us. The government doesn’t think we know how to take care of ourselves, so it must come in and take care of us. We are to be made subjects incapable of taking care of our own health. Nowhere in the Constitution is the federal government given any authority to control the people’s health, not one place. George Washington didn’t fight the redcoats so people could be the subjects of the new, oppressive, and untrustworthy federal bureaucracy. The colonists didn’t die in the War of Independence so a healthcare czar could rule over us.

The government takeover of healthcare is unconstitutional. And if this bill passes, the Texas attorney general and 30 other State attorneys general are prepared to sue the federal government for an exercise of unconstitutional action because this bill is unconstitutional. It forces Americans to buy health insurance against their will. And if people don’t buy the insurance, they will face fines or go to jail. And on top of that, it forces people to buy government-approved health insurance. That means the Feds tell people they have to buy the federal-approved insurance, and it tells them what insurance they must buy. That’s not allowed under any stretch of the law or imagination. That is unconstitutional.

And of course, in this bill they are hiring 16,000 new IRS healthcare police to enforce that dictate. The IRS healthcare police will verify that American citizens have acceptable healthcare insurance every month. I say American citizens because illegals are exempt from paying healthcare fines and taxes, although illegals can receive coverage in this bill.

The healthcare bill also violates the people’s right to privacy. People’s most secret, private, intimate medical records will become the property of the U.S. government. Healthcare busybody bureaucrats will burrow through private medical records and decide what medical care people are allowed to have. Healthcare bureaucrats will stick their nose into private banking accounts and their records to decide how much people have to pay for that health insurance. They will be able to seize tax refunds, bank accounts, garnished wages all in the name of forcing people to buy insurance for their own good. And of course, this is in the bill.

This power grab is not about health, and it’s certainly not about care. It’s about liberty. It’s about federal government control over people’s lives against their will. The federal government has no right to dictate to the people their healthcare needs. And in my opinion, it’s unconstitutional.

Most of the American people oppose the government plan to take over this healthcare. There were thousands of people here today making their voices known that they are opposed to this bill. It costs too much, it borrows too much, it taxes too much, it’s inefficient, and it gives government bureaucrats the control of our medical decisions.

Even Thomas Jefferson talked about government-run healthcare. He said, “If people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.”

Mr. Speaker, government-run healthcare is unconstitutional, and it’s unhealthy for everyone. We must remember the Constitution says and begins with “We the People,” not “We the Subjects.”

And that’s just the way it is.

Editor’s Note: Ted Poe is the Republican Congressman from District 2. The district includes Highlands, Crosby and Liberty County. He has served in Congress since 2006.

Congressman Ron Paul: Legislation doesn’t stand up well against economic realities


Congressman Ron Paul issued the following editorial following the March 20 vote.

Following months of heated public debate and aggressive closed-door negotiations, Congress finally cast a historic vote on healthcare late Sunday evening. It was truly a sad weekend on the House floor as we witnessed further dismantling of the Constitution, disregard of the will of the people, explosive expansion of the reach of government, unprecedented corporate favoritism, and the impending end of quality healthcare as we know it.

Those in favor of this bill touted their good intentions of ensuring quality healthcare for all Americans, as if those of us against the bill are against good medical care. They cite fanciful statistics of deficit reduction, while simultaneously planning to expand the already struggling medical welfare programs we currently have. They somehow think that healthcare in this country will be improved by swelling our welfare rolls and cutting reimbursement payments to doctors who are already losing money. It is estimated that thousands of doctors will be economically forced out of the profession should this government fuzzy math actually try to become healthcare reality. No one has thought to ask what good mandatory health insurance will be if people can’t find a doctor.

Legislative hopes and dreams don’t always stand up well against economic realities. Frustratingly, this legislation does not deal at all with the real reasons access to healthcare is a struggle for so many – the astronomical costs. If tort reform was seriously discussed, if the massive regulatory burden on healthcare was reduced and reformed, if the free market was allowed to function and apply downward pressure on healthcare costs as it does with everything else, perhaps people wouldn’t be so beholden to insurance companies in the first place. If costs were lowered, more people could simply pay for what they need out of pocket, as they were able to do before government got so involved. Instead, in the name of going after greedy insurance companies, the federal government is going to make people even more beholden to them by mandating that everyone buy their product! Hefty fines are due from anyone found to have committed the heinous crime of not being a customer of a health insurance company. We will need to hire some 16,500 new IRS agents to police compliance with all these new mandates and administer various fines. So in government terms, this is also a jobs bill. Never mind that this program is also likely to cost the private sector some 5 million jobs.

Of course, the most troubling aspect of this bill is that it is so blatantly unconstitutional and contrary to the ideals of liberty. Nowhere in the constitution is there anything approaching authority for the Federal government to do any of this. The founders would have been horrified at the idea of government forcing citizens to become consumers of a particular product from certain government approved companies. 38 states are said to already be preparing legal and constitutional challenges to this legislation, and if the courts stand by their oaths, they will win. Protecting the right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, should be the court’s responsibility. Citizens have a responsibility over their own life, but they also have the liberty to choose how they will live and protect their lives. Healthcare choices are a part of liberty, another part that is being stripped away. Government interference in healthcare has already infringed on choices available to people, but rather than getting out of the way, it is entrenching itself, and its corporatist cronies, even more deeply.

Editor’s Note: Ron Paul is the Republican Congressman from District 14. The district includes Chambers County. He has served District 14 since 1997.

East Aldine District holds Public Safety/Security Meeting


The East Aldine District sponsored a meeting last Thursday evening between citizens of local neighborhoods, and representatives of the Sheriff’s department, to exchange information and improve public safety in the District.

The meeting was led by EAD’s Richard Cantu, and including Capt. Mike Richmond and many Sheriff’s deputies, and civic and neighborhood representatives from Parkwood Estates, Castlewood, Tasfield, Green Forest, High Meadows North, Pine Village North, and neighborhoods around street areas including Friendly, Gloger, Hartwick, and others.

Topics that were covered in the three hour meeting included District II patrol activities, the Pro-Active unit, District Contract patrols, and Nuisance Abatement. These were presented by Capt. Richmond and his staff.

Also presented was a Crime Prevention talk by Deputy McCool, and an Emergency Preparedness talk by Mardie Menke of the Harris County Office of Emergency Management. Menke is asking citizens to join a CERT class, to start in May. Info at 281-436-8163.

An introduction to ESD#1 services and facilities was given by Dr. George Kiss, medical director of ESD#1, and Cathy Sunday, president of the board. This was followed by a tour of the building and equipment.

During the evening, residents voiced specific complaints about crime activities in the district. Deputies took notice and information, and promised follow-up. These complaints included Sunday night activities along Little York, including loud music from cars, and street and parking lot racing and cruising. Also mentioned were gunshot parties in several neighborhoods. Bars and clubs were also mentioned as a source of problems for residential neighborhoods.

Beer joints with excessive calls for service, and accompanying illegal activities, have been acted on by the County Attorney, with the intent to pull their licenses, according to Capt. Richmond.

Also discussed was the problem of Game Rooms, with their alleged illegal payouts. Capt. Richmond and Deputy McCool explained the problems of getting conviction on these establishments, but promised the enforcement would continue.

Presentations by the Deputies included mention of the large area to be covered in District II, a total of 275 calls for service daily. However, Capt. Richmond noted a significant decrease in burglary and robbery calls. The largest increase was seen in motor vehicle break-ins, and business burglaries, up 40% from last year.

Deputies Incensio and Garcia presented statistics on the success of the Pro-Active team at East Aldine, which includes 4 deputies and a sergeant just for crime fighting in the District. It was this unit that chased and shot dead a murder suspect from the District last February.

Deputy Rowe outlined work of the Nuisance Abatement unit, and their continued success in removing abandoned autos and dilapidated houses.

Deputy McCool handed out a Crime Prevention guideline, and emphasized that a Neighborhood Crime Watch program, following the suggestions in the booklet, would help to reduce crime.

Cathy Sunday spoke on the capabilities of the Urgent Care Clinic at ESD#1, and also the equipment they have. A unique ambulance is a “bariatric” unit, set up to handle overweight patients that otherwise would not be moved.

EAD chairman Clyde Bailey thanked all who participated, and emphasized that reducing crime was an on-going job.

Early morning armed robbery at Shell Station


Crime Stoppers and Investigators with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office Robbery Division are seeking the public’s assistance in locating a man who robbed the Shell Station located at 5303 Aldine Mail Road.

On Thursday February 25, at around 5:40 in the morning a black male entered the Shell Station and asked for a pack of cigarettes. As the clerk was getting the cigarettes, the suspect showed him a gun that was in the waistband of his pants.

The suspect demanded money from the clerk. The suspect threatened to shoot the clerk if he did not hurry and give him money. The suspect left the store with some cash and fled on foot in an unknown direction. The suspect is described as a 40 to 45 year old black male with a stocky build. He was around 5’10” to 5’ 11” tall. He was wearing a black beanie hat, a blue jacket with gray pants and red and black shoes.

Crime Stoppers will pay up to $5,000 for any information called in to the 713-222-8477 tips hotline or submitted online at www.crime-stoppers.org that leads to the identification, arrest and/or charging of the suspect in this case. Tips can also be sent by text message – Text TIP610 plus your tip to CRIMES (274637). All tipsters remain anonymous.

Airline District – $986,000 grant for water/ sewer, 2010 Census needs participation

By TERI KOERTH
Executive Director
Airline Improvement District


The District has received notice from the Texas Water Development Board that its Economically Distressed Area Program Application has been approved.

The TWDB approved $986,000 to fund the planning, acquisition and design of a water and wastewater system in Zone #1 of the District. The planning phase for the project has already begun and should be completed by the end of 2010. The second phase, which will be the design of the system, will begin in the first quarter of 2011.

The project will provide first time water and wastewater service to approximately 189 homes in Zone #1.

FILL OUT YOUR CENSUS

Please remember to take a moment to fill out the 2010 Census. It is very important to our area.

You may ask why the 2010 Census is important for the residents of the Airline Improvement District to fill out:

• Many County, State and Federal agencies require census data as a part of their application process for grant funded projects.

• The Airline Improvement District has received grant funds to complete a water and sewer feasibility study in our area which was completed in July 2008, purchase land for a park which was acquired and is currently being designed, as well as a grant to help fund a mobility study is our area which was completed in March 2009.

These studies have led to additional applications and the District will also be receiving grant funds to help pay for sidewalks in portions of the District along with other mobility related projects, additional funds to help construct the park and will receive grant funds to begin two separate water and sewer projects in the area.

• Grant funds are very important to our area and help us stretch our budget dollars. Budgeted dollars help pay for programs such as our Contract Deputy Program which pays for additional Harris County Sheriff’s Deputies to patrol our area, our Graffiti Abatement Program and 92 street lights on Airline Drive from West Road to Canino.

• More accurate census information will enable us to obtain additional grant dollars which will help fund other projects in our area.

• The 2010 Census data will affect decisions in our area for the next 10 years.

Answers are completely confidential and the 2010 Census is only 10 questions. Please take the time to fill it out and help our area.

Rain dampens Big K open house


Faced with criticism of odors emanating from his company, owner Tom Page held an Open House for the neighborhood last Saturday, March 20 with the intention of showing his improved and odor free facility.

Unfortunately, heavy rains kept the visitors to a few in number, even though Page had arranged food, popcorn, children’s games, and tours of the facility. He also had a slide show that highlighted the improvements. Unfazed, he thanked the neighborhood for their understanding, and offered a future Open House on a dry day.

This story has been truncated for the web. For the full story, please see our print edition.

YMCA’s Mariana Sanchez named Hispanic Woman of the Year


She has been a familiar face at the Greenspoint YMCA and in the Aldine Community. Now Mariana Sanchez has been recognized for her efforts to improve the lives of those living in the Aldine/ Greenspoint Community.

On March 6 Sanchez was selected as Hispanic Woman of the Year-2010 for Community Service in Houston by El Succesos newspaper and HCC.

“It was a pleasure and honor to represent the Aldine Greenspoint Community and also to have the YMCA recognized at this event, which support was important to our success,” Sanchez said.

Now after three years with the YMCA Sanchez will be moving on to another post as her career progresses.

“She will be sorely missed,” Eduardo Rodriguez, Executive Director of Aldine Greenspoint YMCA said.

“I have been planting seeds all this time and now it is time for me to harvest the growth provided from these seeds for this community. I will not leave the families or the children; I will continue working to complete what I started a few years ago.” She said that this is not good bye. “I will be around for any help that I can provide to this community.”

Dedication in North Houston Heights Park in memory of Arlene Nichols


NORTHEAST HOUSTON – It is only a water fountain in a small neighborhood park, but it symbolized the efforts of a wonderful community advocate, and what she accomplished in her lifetime.

Arlene Nichols, was the legislative assistant for 18 years to Kevin Bailey, and helped represent the East Aldine District, House District 140, and the Airline and Greenspoint areas in all their public and governmental dealings. She was well known by many residents of the area and civic clubs for her hard work, dedication to their needs, and her pursuit of improved quality of life standards for the area and its residents.

The water and sewer project in North Houston Heights was symbolic of many projects she helped to bring to realization, and many more in her plans. However, she retired from the legislative position in January 2009, and died in April of that year.

The inscription on the fountain reads:

“In memory of Arlene Nichols, a truly devoted public servant, always focused on working with community leaders to bring about a better quality of life for all.”

The East Aldine District plans to continue her work, with more water and sewer projects, public safety, parks, traffic and safety improvements, and other projects that paralleled her interests and work.

During the ceremonies at Gerber Park in North Houston Heights, EAD chairman Clyde Bailey thanked Civic Club president Robert Mooreland, Harris County Infrastructure Director John Blount, Pct. 1 Commissioner Pct. 1 El Franco Lee, Sheriff Adrian Garcia, Sunbelt Water District, contractor Calco Ltd., and others who helped bring this project to a successful completion.

Students of nearby Orange Grove Elementary participated in the ceremonies with the flag presentation.