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Posts published in “Day: June 18, 2013

The Sights of Taipei

By Angie Liang

Walking the streets of Taipei for the first time in ten years, I found myself chuckling. It was so much like New York, except the sidewalks were clean and the roads inundated with motorcycles. Exhaust was the perfume of the major boulevards, while the smaller streets were crowded with low-rise buildings hosting apartments on the top floors and retailers on the ground. For residents who preferred not to drive, the subway and bus system were both convenient and easily accessible – as long as you knew Chinese. And amidst all these people coming and going, the most amusing sight for me was that at any time of day, someone happily walked their little dog, usually unleashed.

During my time in Taipei, I made sure to visit the major tourist sites, including Taipei 101, the National Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, the National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, and even Chiufen, a coastal tourist city.

On a clear day, it’s impossible to miss Taipei 101’s glistening green glass in the financial district. After all, the building is one of the tallest towers in the world. This art deco, modern pagoda-like structure is available for overpriced tours – unfortunately my visit occurred on an extremely foggy (or smoggy) day. Instead, like most tourists, I lingered around its adjacent shopping center. The mall is a multi-story galleria of luxury stores, where shop clerks eagerly follow your every move for a sale. It was quiet and eerily empty on a Friday evening as I admired the gleaming marble — an indicator that the Taiwanese were not spending here. The liveliest floor was the underground level, where you could find mainstream (i.e., affordable) retailers as well as the illustrious food court. This food court’s design and refreshments far surpassed those found in American malls — and even the food in U.S. chain restaurants.

The Sun Yat-sen and Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Halls are both beautiful to behold. They are very characteristic of Eastern-style architecture and feature an imposing main gate. Inside the Sun Yat-sen memorial, art galleries illustrate the story of his life and interpret the memorial through different artists’ perspectives. Just like Lincoln in Washington D.C., a large sculpture of Sun Yat-sen sits on his chair gazing out. He is protected by two guards who, like the Buckhingham guards in London, will not move or falter when approached. The outside of the hall is a vibrant orange, and a reflection pool and park border it. The scene is idyllic as many citizens gather here: a group of students practicing their dance routine, parents watching their children fly kites, photographers trying to capture the beauty of the Memorial, and friends chatting on park benches.

This time I only visited the outside of Chaing Kai-shek’s Memorial Hall, but despite being under construction, it is stunningly beautiful. The stark white stones are striking even against a gray sky, and the ocean blue tiles on the memorial and the entrance gate are one of the most vivid colors you see in the city. Though I was only able to spend a brief moment here, I found a sense of peace and stillness, a rarity in my life that I truly appreciated.

Court Dismisses North Forest TRO lawsuit, HISD votes to encompass NF district

NORTH FOREST – With only a few weeks remaining before the TEA ordered annexation of the beleagured North Forest school district into Houston ISD, the district lost one of its last appeal opportunities when the 126th District Court in Austin issued an order dismissing the case because it “lacks jurisdiction.” In effect this grants the TEA authority to continue with its plans to merge North Forest ISD with Houston ISD.

Immediately the NF attorneys, Ron Rainey and Chris Tritico, indicated to the Northeast News that they would appeal this court decision to the 3rd Court of Appeals in Austin. In addition, North Forest is still waiting for a decision from the U.S. Department of Justice on whether the merger would be compliant with the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

North Forest superintendent Edna Forté issued a statement that “we are disappointed that the state district court judge declined to stop the closure of North Forest ISD. We will continue to fight for our children and our community.”

In a meeting with the Northeast News, attorney Ron Rainey indicated that time may actually be on the district’s side, since the appelllate court and the DOJ may not make decisions by the July 1st deadline. In that case, he surmised that TEA might be forced legally to keep the district open.

Plea to Houston ISD

Supporters of the District appeared at an HISD board meeting on Thursday afternoon, and each made a plea for the board to delay their annexation vote. However, in two motions the board voted 8-0 to redraw the boundaries to include North Forest, and to assign portions of the district to HISD single person districts 2 and 8. These are represented by Rhonda Skillern-Jones and Juliet Stipeche.

Appearing and speaking at the meeting were NF advocates Rev. William Lawson, Millicent Edwards, Deidre Rasheed for Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Nakima Brawns, Rev. Lawrence Woods, Ernestine Jones, Elliott Livingston, and Rev. Ken Campbell.

Rev. Lawson asked the board to give North Forest “some opportunity to have a voice. Don’t vote until the court has made a decision.”

Ernestine Jones and others pointed out that North Forest is delivering a quality education, and test scores are better than neighboring HISD schools.

Observers noted that HISD superintendent Terry Grier has visited all 8 North Forest schools, and held a “TeleTownHall” to garner opinions on the annexation.

Attorney Locke said that his office had drawn boundaries for the annexation, which should be considered temporary until a complete redistricting in Jan. 2014. However, HISD District 2 would get the major portion of North Forest (SEE MAP ABOVE) and this would be a predominantly African-American district. The other portion of the NFISD would go to HISD District 8, and be predominantly Hispanic. He said that he felt this would satisfy the Civil Right Act requirements.

Letter to Parents by HISD

An unsigned letter was issued to North Forest parents last week by HISD, informing the community of future plans for their schools and their children. This letter said an information center had been established at the Northeast Multi-Service Center, 9720 Spaulding. In addition two (now 3) public meetings will be held to give information and answer questions.

The letter said that Lakewood Elementary would be closed, but all others would remain open, and named new principals at each of the 7 remaining schools. The letter also included new attendance zone maps for remaining NFISD and HISD schools.

Public Information Meetings

June 18, 6:30 to 7:30 pm, Kashmere High School, 6900 Wileyvale.

June 25, 6:30 to 7:30 pm, Eden Event Center, 7540 N. Wayside.

June 27, 6:30 to 7:30 pm, Eden Event Center, 7540 N. Wayside.

During these meetings, open to all NFISD and HISD parents, information will be presented by HISD on school attendance zones, new principals, and questions will be answered.