Texas Round-Up: What’s Happenin’ around Texas?

COVER11Austin - Considering race and ethnicity can be critical when dealing with issues from mental health to juvenile delinquency.  Experts will discuss how to achieve equity across systems and community programs at the August 21-22 Cross Systems Summit presented by HHSC’s Center for Elimination of Disproportionality and Disparities. Registration is now open for the Summit, which is free and open to the public. The event will promote “Achieving Equity across Systems and Communities for a Healthier Texas.” The summit will focus on how to work together to address inequities in health and social services, as well as education, housing and other systems that ultimately affect a person’s health and wellbeing. Breakout sessions offer an opportunity to work together to find ways to address disproportionality and disparities. The event may be of special interest to community and faith-based representatives, provider organizations, and those who work in health and human services, social services, juvenile justice, education, health and mental health, and housing.

Beaumont – Beaumont ISD could not agree to cut some 113 jobs from the district. The Board defeated a motion that would have cut the jobs. The Reduction in Force, or RIF, was suppose to relieve pressure on an already strained budget. The district is facing a $25 million shortfall for the next budget year, and is also trying to stave off a takeover attempt being made by the Texas Education Agency. The TEA has already appointed a conservator who has noted that with current spending  without cuts, there will not be enough money left to pay teachers come August.

Fort Worth - Two suspects from Fort Worth were arrested Monday night and charged with capital murder in the death of 54-year-old Marion Lee Brown. Part of Brown’s dead body was discovered burning inside a roll of carpet along a Smith County road in May. Later the rest of his body was found in a lake in the Shreveport area. Eventually Fort Worth police located the apartment in which they believe he was killed and linked it to 30-year-old Brandon Bernard Daniels and 25-year-old Damonica Laniesha Evans. Investigators there now believe that Daniels and Evans were running a scam in which they lured victims to the apartment under false pretenses and then robbed them. Specifically, Fort Worth Police Sergeant Raymond Bush cited an alleged arrangement in which Daniels and Evans would post misleading ads on BackPage.com Bush said Daniels and Evans faced additional charges for aggravated robbery, and that further charges could be forthcoming as an investigation continues into the alleged bait-and-switch scheme involving the online escort ads. Daniels is being held on $1,025,000 bond and Evans is being held on $1,010,000 bond. Both are being held at the Florence County, SC jail. Detectives from Fort Worth were en route to South Carolina Tuesday afternoon. No extradition date has been set.

Houston – The NAACP National Headquarters, NAACP Texas State Conference and NAACP Houston Branch hosted a joint press conference to discuss the release of its new report, “Just Energy Policies: Reducing Pollution and Creating Jobs – Texas Report”. Under the leadership of Jacqui Patterson, Director NAACP National Environmental and Climate Justice Program, the report assesses energy policy in the State of Texas from a civil rights lens.  It provides analysis of Texas’ energy sector policies based on environmental, human health and economic impacts and lays a path for preserving the well-being of the community while creating economic enterprise opportunities.  An excerpt from the report states “Texas has a mandatory renewable energy standard of 10,000 MW (or approximately 8.6% of its current energy mix) by 2025. Texas must raise its 10,000 MW standard – which it has already surpassed in 2009 – to 25% renewable energy by 2025 at a minimum. Texas leads the country in wind energy development and must ensure sustainable growth by insisting upon additional wind, solar, and geothermal build-outs as the cleanest possible resources.” According to NAACP Texas President Gary Bledsoe, “The poisoning of Latino Americans and African Americans living in the shadows of oil refineries and coal fired power plants from Houston to San Antonio; the children who are flooding across our borders sent by hopeful parents who pray that these children will have better lives than their own as their crops dry up and their communities are destroyed by disasters; and the failure and lack of vision some of our own legislators, who opposed the recently released Carbon Pollution Standards that aim to curb pollution and prevent climate change.

Houston - With high hopes of more to come, Mayor Annise Parker, Council Members Stephen Costello and Dwight Boykins, the Houston Redevelopment Authority (HRA) and others broke ground on the first project to target a Houston food desert.  With financial assistance from the city, Pyburn’s owner John Vuong is building a first-class grocery store to serve South Union and surrounding neighborhoods.  The store is scheduled to open the first quarter of 2015. Vuong and his family own and operate 11 stores, nine of which are located in Houston.  They have extensive experience operating in low to moderate income areas.  The new venture, which must create a minimum of 25 jobs, will be the next generation of the company’s stores, named Pyburn’s Farm Fresh Foods.

San Antonio – San Antonio native and memoirist Tunette M. Powell appeared on CNN talking about preschool and racial discrimination. Her sons, Jason, 4, and Joah, 3, attend a preschool on the military base where her husband is stationed in Omaha, Neb. The only difference between her sons and the other children was the color of their skin, she said. She said CNN looked at her children’s experience as well as her own experience, having been suspended in preschool herself here in San Antonio. She has written two books, and her family moved from San Antonio to Omaha in 2010 for her husband’s job. She said San Antonio is a special place to her and she’s eager to move back after her husband, Jason Sr., fulfills his military service.

San Antonio – The Joint City/County Citizens Bond Oversight Commission is seeking applicants to ensure representation from all sectors of the City of San Antonio. The deadline to submit applications is Friday, August 8, 2014. Those interested in applying for one of the available positions may do so online using the City’s web-based application for boards and commission. The Commission is comprised of 20 members, with 10 members appointed by the San Antonio City Council and 10 by the Bexar County Commissioners Court. The Commission advises City and County Elected Officials as to the recommended process for delivery of capital improvement projects, including review of scope, cost estimate, budget, schedule, public input, alternative delivery systems, program management and other capital improvement processes. The 2012-2017 Bond Program Information Guide states that a Citizens Bond Oversight Commission, which was established in 2003, will continue to monitor the progress of the bond programs.

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