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July 3rd, 2007:

Day labor center will live to see another year

The controversy over Houston’s day labor center has been squelched, for now. The center will stay open completely on donated funds, not taxpayer money.

”The funding has been raised, and the center will stay open for at least this next year,” said Marc Levinson, director of agency development for Neighborhood Centers Inc., the Houston nonprofit that has operated the facility since 2005. ”It’s all private money. No tax dollars are being used.”

Levinson credited the donations to a fundraising effort by Mayor Bill White, who last month pledged to find funding to operate the center after the contract expired. Levinson said the donors wish to remain anonymous.

In confirming the fundraising effort, White noted that Houston, and other cities, have long funded day labor centers. At one time, there were two such centers operating with city funds.

”It was only relatively recently it was cast as an issue that had to do with immigration,” White said.

Supporters of day labor sites say they are safer and more sanitary than informal hiring centers on street corners, since workers don’t wait in the streets or private property to find jobs and can use bathrooms facilities in the center.

White said the centers also help ensure that immigrant workers are not exploited. “On occasion people have refused to pay them after a day of hard work,” he said.

However, groups that favor tighter immigration control say the centers should be banned.

”I hope they would close it,” Louise Whiteford, president of Texans for Immigration Reform, has said. “Having a day work center aids, abets and encourages more illegal immigration.”

The Chron was pretty heavy on quoting from supporters of the center, but I think that only indicates how most people feel. The fact of the matter is that if these people are in our city, the best thing we can do is help them find work. Immigration is a separate issue from the day labor center, and the people we’ve put into office, as Kuff pointed out when he wrote about this, believe the federal government should deal with immigration.

Google making me sick-o

Oh, poor HMO’s, is Michael Moore picking on you? Don’t worry – Google is here to help:

The healthcare industry is no stranger to negative press. A drug may be a blockbuster one day and tolled as a public health concern the next. News reporters may focus on Pharma’s annual sales and its executives’ salaries while failing to share R&D costs. Or, as is often common, the media may use an isolated, heartbreaking, or sensationalist story to paint a picture of healthcare as a whole. With all the coverage, it’s a shame no one focuses on the industry’s numerous prescription programs, charity services, and philanthropy efforts.

Many of our clients face these issues; companies come to us hoping we can help them better manage their reputations through “Get the Facts” or issue management campaigns. Your brand or corporate site may already have these informational assets, but can users easily find them?

We can place text ads, video ads, and rich media ads in paid search results or in relevant websites within our ever-expanding content network. Whatever the problem, Google can act as a platform for educating the public and promoting your message. We help you connect your company’s assets while helping users find the information they seek.

I saw Moore’s Sicko last weekend. It was as much of a tearjerker as you would imagine, and the healthcare industry really does take quite a beating. But is it Google’s job to defend these companies? I would say probably not, and it’s turned out to be a very unwise move anyways. Bloggers are calling for Lauren Turner, the author of the post, to be fired, for Moore to target Google in his next documentary, etc. I enjoyed the film, and I think it has the potential to make a difference (especially in 2008) in America, as long as people use it as a the beginning of a discussion and not as an answer to our healthcare problems. The issue is more complex than, “Let’s be just like France.”

Rep. Pete Gallego: Texas Needs Rick Noriega As Our Senator

Rep. Pete Gallego, who represents Texas House District 74, one of the border districts, released a statement yesterday explaining why he supports Representative and LTC Rick Noriega for U.S. Senate. This is especially meaningful as there was buzz this spring about Gallego entering this race:

This past weekend, 47 members of the House of Representatives joined me in asking our friend and colleague, Lt. Col. Rick Noriega, to run for U.S. Senate. We asked our friend to run because now, more than ever, we need his strength and leadership to get Texas and our great nation back on the right path.

While certain politicians were talking about the “war on terror”, Lt. Col. Noriega was actually fighting it by serving a 14-month tour of duty in Afghanistan. While certain politicians were failing the test of leadership in response to Hurricane Katrina, Lt. Col. Noriega was brought in to serve as Incident Commander and direct logistics at the George Brown Convention Center, helping thousands of Katrina evacuees. While certain politicians were talking about the need for immigration reform and border security, Lt. Col. Noriega was actually securing the border as the Commander for the Laredo Border Sector. Texas needs leadership by example, the type of leadership Rick Noriega has given his state and country.

For more than a decade, Rick has also been on the front lines fighting for a better Texas. He and I have stood side by side to protect and defend our children by providing children’s health insurance. We have worked together to give teachers a necessary and needed pay raise, and put more resources into public education. We have worked together to protect our environment and clean up our air, especially in places like Houston.

At this crucial time in the history of our state and nation, Texas needs Rick Noriega’s leadership in the U.S. Senate. I am grateful to my 47 colleagues in the Texas House who joined me in asking our friend and colleague to run for U.S. Senate. I have every reason to believe Lt. Col. Noriega will once again answer when duty calls.

(To read the letter from the Texas Legislators drafting Rick Noriega for Senator, click here.)

Houston City Hall Water Crisis Averted

After much deliberation and two “tags” it looks like enriched water won’t be sold at Houston City Hall after all. For now. Prices for drinks at City Hall are going to go up no matter what, so Council Members and staffers, load up those refrigerators in your offices with Coke, Diet Coke and bottled water! Melissa Noriega, our newest Council Member is all about the Diet Dr. Pepper, so she’s going to be good to go no matter what.

Here’s Matt Stiles:

Turns out all that City Council debate during the last two weeks about amending a soft-drink contract might not have been necessary.

The proposed contract changes, which are on this week’s agenda, would allow Dr Pepper Bottling Co. of Houston to deliver Glacéau’s “Vitamin Water” brand to hundreds of vending machines, including those at parks, airports and even City Hall.

Here’s where it gets tricky.

The controversy has centered on the fact that, once Dr Pepper takes over delivery to City Hall and the City Hall Annex, where council members have offices, employees in those buildings would no longer see Coca-Cola and Pepsi products.

Last week, though, members complained that 1) Glacéau had recently been purchased by Coca-Cola, raising a question about whether Vitamin Water could even been delivered by Dr Pepper, and 2) whether it was appropriate for the city to offer the drink, because it’s been promoted by rapper 50 Cent. Some members objected to his lyrics.

City officials answered the first question this morning, rendering the second moot: Dr Pepper won’t be delivering the water now or in the future. But the contract changes, which allow for higher prices, are still necessary, they say, because the company plans to debut a new “enriched” water sometime soon.