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Posts published in “Day: August 16, 2011

Dog days

By Kristan Hoffman

Your day starts at 6 AM with a dog retching beside your bed. The noise rouses you from dreaming, and you stumble out of the room, urging the dog to follow you to the kitchen and its tiled floor.

Unfortunately, he doesn’t quite make it.

Still half-asleep, you clean up the carpet and then fall back into bed. The dog lies down next to you, wide-eyed and sad, as if he can’t believe his stomach has betrayed him.

An hour later, the alarm goes off, and it’s much too soon. But what can you do? It’s time for breakfast, emails, and work. Not long after that, it’s time for lunch, errands, and work. And a little later, it’s time for dinner and chores, and maybe some more work. The day rolls on, no relief, layering its stresses upon you one tick of the clock at a time.

Finally, when most of your to-do list has been checked off — the rest will have to wait until tomorrow — you settle on the sofa, curling into the corner and sinking into the cushions. The TV is on but you barely hear it. Your eyes are open, but your mind is in Sleep Mode. You feel… nothing.

Minutes pass. Then something moves in the corner of your vision. A paw.

You turn to see your dog tucked into the opposite corner of the sofa, a furry ball of sleep. You watch him. His little belly rises and falls with each slow, soothing breath. His nose twitches. His ears are askew. His eyes have disappeared into the black spots that surround them. His tail is wrapped around him like punctuation mark, and his head is nestled between his front legs.

You smile.

Peace settles over you like a warm blanket. You feel grateful for this one tiny moment, this perfect picture of serenity. You realize that life is a two-sided coin: everything is balanced. Suddenly you don’t feel so stressed.

When you get up, the dog follows. He stands in your closet while you change into pajamas. He sits at your feet while you brush your teeth. He looks at you hopefully when you open the fridge for a glass of water. He jumps onto the sheets when you turn off the lights and slip into bed.

At 11 PM your day ends with a dog resting his head on your leg. You both sleep soundly.

Final Redistricting Map changes East Aldine areas to Pct. 2

Lawsuit filed; Hispanics claim map discriminates

NORTHEAST– Residents and voters of the Aldine area, who are used to receiving services and dealing with Harris County Precinct One, will find themselves in a new precinct after January 1st, 2012 if the new redistricting map survives a court challenge.
Last Tuesday, Aug. 9 the County Commissioners held their fifth public hearing, and then proceeded to adopt what is known as Revised Map A-1. A few changes were made from the original A-1, to respond to criticisms that the Hispanic vote had been diluted and that Pct. 2 was no longer a “Hispanic Opportunity” district.
The changes included returning two precincts in the Huffman area to Eversole’s Pct. 4, and taking five additional precincts in the Aldine area that were Lee’s Pct. 1, and reassigning them to Morman’s Pct. 2. Also, another five would be split between the two precincts. This has the effect of making almost all of East Aldine District now in Precinct 2, where it had been in Precinct 1.

Attorney Gene Locke, whose law firm helped draft the plan, said that he feels the final plan meets the criteria of the Voting Rights Act, and the goals of the commissioners.
Although the Hispanic population in Pct. 2 is now about 60%, and it will be 58.2 in the new plan, nevertheless the new map shows more Hispanic population in Pct. 2 than previously existed. However, the lawsuit filed by city councilmen James Rodriguez and Ed Gonzalez and five others, says that this dilution is not acceptable, and amounts to a “retrogression” not allowed by the Voting Rights Act.
In the public hearings held earlier, State Senator Mario Gallegos and State Representative Armando Walle, both of whom represent the Aldine area, complained about the diultion of Hispanic votes, and the gerrymandering that split their districts. One of the criteria for the remapping had been a “compact” outline, which is not apparent in this map.
The current map returns Precinct 1 to an African-American plurality voting district, and therefore has the support of Commissioner Lee. Hispanic population growth had made existing Pct. 1 an Hispanic plurality.
Hispanics have presented the court with an alternative map, known as the Jara plan, drawn by Robert Jara and activitist Rey Guerra. It redraws the boundaries in a gerrymandered approach, that results in a Pct. 2 with 73 percent Hispanics.
Commissioner Morman, although not Hispanic, pointed out at the Commissioner’s meeting that he is well prepared to represent all constituents including Latinos, and noted that his wife and in-laws are Hispanic origin.
The lawsuit has been filed in federal court, and the first hearing is scheduled for December 2.

DOUBLESPEAK: TEA now says North Forest closure not certain

North Forest ISD will Get Chance To Prove Itself to TEA

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and leaders at and supporters of the North Forest Independent School District received good news today: the reported closing of the district is premature.
In a teleconference with Robert Scott, Commissioner of the Texas Education Agency, the commissioner said that no final order of closure has been issued for the district. Congresswoman Jackson Lee said this statement gives a new lease on life to NFISD.
“We all know we have work to do in North Forest,” said the Congresswoman. “We now can show what the children in North Forest can do and can showcase their talents and their abilities.”
NFISD Acting Superintendent Edna Forte said the statement from Commissioner Scott lends itself to real hope. During the year, she and the administration will be providing the TEA with information on the measured growth of the district. Forte has already cut the district’s budget and hired a new principal at North Forest High School.

That new principal, James Troutman, is encouraged that NFISD has the opportunity to make its case and show what its children can accomplish.
Congresswoman Jackson, of the 18th Congressional District, said she was pleased to convene the meeting today with NFISD administrators, board members and local ministers who all have the same goal: to prove the value of the district to its children. She said everyone in the meeting expressed their commitment to the children of North Forest and they emphasized that to Scott.
“I hope this statement from Commissioner Scott clarifies North Forest’s situation to the public,” said the Congresswoman. “We do not have a decision to close this district.”
Both Board Chair Albert Coleman and Secretary Lois Edwards thanked Commissioner Scott for his statement today.
“This is a real opportunity to show what we can do to improve,” said Coleman.
“The Board has worked with the administration to educate our children,” explained Edwards. “A united Board makes all the difference.”
Pastor Theophilus Berry of Greater True Life Church said it was refreshing to hear that no final order of closure has been issued for NFISD. Pastor Willie Jones of New Mt. Calvary Baptist Church was also glad to hear the Commissioner’s statement since many people in North Forest believe the district is being closed.
The North Forest Independent School District is a majority minority district in northeast Houston. Before any final action is taken on the issue of closure, the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice will have to review the issue to determine if the community is being adversely affected.
Dr. Pedro Noguera, a professor at New York University and an expert in school improvement who is in Houston for meetings with North Forest educators, attended the meeting and the teleconference. He called the news encouraging and said NFISD should take it as a challenge to move its schools in the right direction.