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June 15th, 2009:

Keep Heights Green

Got this via a Heights mailing list I’m on:

Keep Heights Green, a local non-profit organization whose mission is to replant trees in the Greater Heights area lost during Hurricane Ike, is hosting its first fundraising event on Thursday, June 18, from 7 to 9 p.m. The organization, which was formed in October 2008, has plans to put 100 trees in the ground this year and maintain them. Having recently planted 18 eight-foot live oak trees along Ella Blvd., Keep Heights Green hopes its Summer Fundraiser will help the organization raise funds to plant the remaining 82 trees to meet its first-year goal. Eighty percent of all funds raised through Keep Heights Green go directly into planting and maintaining what is placed in the ground.

Keep Heights Green’s Summer Fundraiser will be at the amazing and beautiful Indian Summer Lodge, located in the Historic Heights. We’ll have food, wine, entertainment, a silent auction and raffle. Please join
us — you’ll enjoy a great evening in a beautiful and serene garden oasis.

There will be plenty of opportunities to give, and an individual donation of $25 at the door is greatly appreciated! If you’re looking for an opportunity to make a positive impact on your community, this is the event for you!

Event Details

Date: Thursday, June 18
Time: 7 – 9 p.m.
Location: Indian Summer Lodge
605 Columbia at White Oak
Houston, TX 77007
Attire: Your best GREEN cool summer casual

RSVP: [email protected] or you can RSVP on our Facebook page (and also become a fan of KHG)

Hope you can make it.

Rick Rodriguez to announce for At Large #1

I’d heard rumors to this effect, and now it’s official: Former District H candidate Rick Rodriguez is joining the race for At Large #1 in November. From the email announcement:

Rick Rodriguez to launch campaign for Houston City Council At-Large, Position 1.

Richard “Rick” Rodriguez is a native Houstonian and a 23-year veteran of the Houston Police Department. He is a product of public schools, attending the Houston Independent School District’s DeZavala Elementary, Edison Jr. High and Austin High School.

For 11 years, he was assigned to the Gulfton Police Storefront where he worked on the front lines in community-oriented policing. In addition to regularly riding bicycle patrol in this neighborhood, he served as the primary liaison officer to many businesses, civics, schools and church organizations. He is currently the president of the Houston Police Organization of Spanish Speaking Officers, a title held since 2007.

“I am running to be the next Council Member for At-Large Position 1 to continue my career in public service in a capacity that will allow me to directly serve all our communities. I look forward to crafting a detailed plan of action in partnership with the leaders of our city.”

He will formally launch his campaign for City Council At-Large, Position 1 on July 2, 2009 at Casa Grande Restaurant located at 3401 N. Main at 6:00 PM.

Rodriguez joins a field that includes Herman Litt, Lonnie Allsbrooks, Steve Costello, and fellow former District H candidate Karen Derr. I presume he’ll update his website shortly.

Town hall meeting on climate change

The following is from the office of State Sen. Rodney Ellis:

Houston Residents to Dialogue with National Experts on Climate Change Impacts
Joint Center’s Climate Change Commission Hosts Town Hall Meeting

WHO: Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies (Joint Center) and its Commission to Engage African Americans on Climate Change (Commission)

WHAT: The Commission seeks to increase the involvement of communities in the climate change debate and will hold a Town Hall meeting this month to hear from local residents on the impact of global warming on Houston’s African Americans and Hispanic/Latino communities. In addition to climate change and energy policy, the Town Hall meeting will focus on opportunities related to green jobs and green-related employment opportunities, and funding for projects to lessen the progression or impacts of climate change, including weatherization, building efficiency, transportation, alternative energy, and green spaces. The event is part of the Joint Center’s partnership with the Clinton Global Initiative, an organization established by former President Clinton to help turn ideas into action.

The Commission’s own “commitment to action” is to convene regional meetings around the country to raise awareness of the impact of climate change on minority communities and to ensure their voices are heard in the process of developing policy solutions at this crucial time. The Commission strives to engage minority communities in this integral policy debate to ensure the formulation of just climate and energy policies that benefit and create opportunities for all communities.

The Town Hall meeting is open to the public and materials will be available in English and Spanish. Translators will also be available to ensure maximum participation.

WHERE: Communications Workers of America Local 6222
1730 Jefferson Street, Houston, TX 77003

WHEN: Wednesday, June 17, 2009, 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Note: Registration will open at 5:30 p.m. and refreshments will be provided.

The Honorable Rodney Ellis, Texas State Senate, District 13 and Commission Co-Chair
Ralph B. Everett, Esq., President and CEO, Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies and Commission
Dr. Georges Benjamin, Executive Director, American Public Health Association
Dr. Robert Bullard, Director, Environmental Justice Resource Center, Clark Atlanta University
Calvin G. Butler, Esq., Vice President of State Legislative and Government Affairs ComEd, Inc.
Milton Carroll, Chairman of the Board, CenterPoint Energy, Inc.
Leslie G. Fields, Esq., National Environmental Justice Director, Sierra Club
Carolyn L. Green, Managing Partner, EnerGreen Capital Management, LLC
Dr. Gabriela D. Lemus, President, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement
Frank M. Stewart, President and COO, American Association of Blacks in Energy
Dr. Beverly Wright, Executive Director, Dillard University Deep South Center for Environmental Justice

The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies is one of the nation’s leading research and public policy institutions and the only one whose work focuses primarily on issues of particular concern to African Americans and other people of color. For more information about the Joint Center, please visit our Web site at

Hope you can make it.

The secret Superintendent search

Bad idea.

Houston ISD trustees decided this afternoon that they will release to the public only one name in the superintendent search — the person they intend to hire. The board, at the urging of its search firm, Heidrick & Struggles, said it will not divulge the names of any applicants or any people they interview for the taxpayer-funded job. They intend to name only one finalist.

Search consultant Les Csorba told the board many potential candidates have asked about confidentiality and are worried about their names being let out of the bag. “I think the most outstanding candidates are those actively involved in a leadership role right now where they have a number of risks associated with their potential candidacy,” Csorba told trustees. “Anything this board can do to reassure and reaffirm this confidentiality of the process would go a long way.”

I didn’t like this before, and I don’t like it now. If this is the norm for superintendent searches, then I think it’s a bad norm. This is a public position, and it should be filled in a manner that’s open to public scrutiny. Frankly, I’m not sure I buy Lee Csorba’s assertion about the need for confidentiality. If this is such a great opportunity that everyone knows about as he claims, then it’ll still be so if the candidates’ names are disclosed as part of the process. Wouldn’t it be nice to know what these candidates’ current colleagues think about them now, instead of after he or she gets hired? Besides, as Stace points out, what are the odds this will stay a secret all the way through? Do it in the open and save yourself the trouble, HISD.

By the way, Superintendent Abe Saavedra’s last day will be August 31, one week after the fall semester starts. It’d be nice to have a replacement in place by then.

Strip club fee appealed to Supreme Court

As expected.

The legal battles continue to spin around Texas’ so-called “pole tax,” a $5 entrance fee at strip clubs that has been ruled an unconstitutional regulation of free expression.

Lawyers for Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and state Comptroller Susan Combs on Thursday asked the Texas Supreme Court to overturn lower courts that have said the 2-year-old law is unconstitutional.

The fee was meant to fund programs assisting victims of sexual assault. Many clubs have ignored the fee, but more than $12 million has been collected. The money is being held in an account pending the legal battle’s outcome.

The Texas Entertainment Association, which represents strip clubs across the state, sued and a state district judge struck down the law in 2008. A 2-1 ruling last week by the Austin-based 3rd Court of Appeals said the tax improperly singles out a form of expression, nude dancing, for regulation.

As we saw with the Third Court’s opinion, the proponents of the tax believe they have hope for a reversal by the Supremes. I just have my doubts that the matter will be resolved before the courts before the Lege gets another crack at it. Who knows, maybe it’ll be on the call for the special session.