Coalition To Dampen Houston Heights Dry Zone Kicks Off Election Campaign

first_imgFlorian MartinSteve Reilley with the Houston Heights Beverage Coalition speaks during a campaign kickoff event.If you live between West 27th Street, White Oak Bayou, Dian and Gostick streets in the Heights, you can’t buy alcohol in your neighborhood.That’s thanks to an ordinance from 1912.In August, the City Council voted to place a referendum on the ballot to lift the ban on the sale of beer and wine for off-premise consumption.Steve Reilley leads the Houston Heights Beverage Coalition, which collected more than 1,700 signatures on a petition to overturn the ban. He, together with city council members and representatives from the retail industry, kicked off the official campaign for a yes vote.They’ll have to convince at least half of the estimated 10,500 voters who live here.Considering there is no organized opposition, this sounds like an easy task but Reilley says they’re not taking it for granted.“In Houston/Harris County, a November ballot in a presidential year is very, very, very long,” he says. “And so this one is literally going to be the last thing, the bottom of the ballot on that November ballot, so we have to get the word out.”He says there’s also some misinformation about what the ordinance would do. It doesn’t repeal the original law that established the ban but merely allows for beer and wine to be sold in stores.It’s something grocers like HEB would benefit from.The grocery store chain has been negotiating a lease for a 4-acre property on North Shepherd Street. But HEB’s Houston president Scott McClelland says a lifting on the ban is crucial for them to move forward.“It’s tough when both beer and wine are such big sellers and so important to our overall success of a store,” he says. “So we’re counting on this vote passing.”Some concerns that have been raised about the change include that it could attract homeless people to loiter outside stores and that it would invite more unwanted new development in the historic area.If the referendum passes, nothing changes for restaurants or bars in the area. They will still have to circumvent the law by signing customers up for private drinking clubs if they want to sell alcohol to them.To see a map of the Heights’ “dry” area, go here. To embed this piece of audio in your site, please use this code: X 00:00 /01:31 Share Listenlast_img read more

ExUS Rep Stockman indicted in Houston Federal Court for misusing donations

first_img Share APFILE – In this Jan. 3, 2013, file photo, Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas, right, participates in a mock swearing-in ceremony in Washington. Sen. John Cornyn spent nearly $5.5 million in the two months leading up to Texas’ Republican primary to help fend off a quixotic challenge from the right by renegade Congressman Stockman. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci, File)A grand jury has indicted former U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman on charges he and a former aide orchestrated a scheme to misuse hundreds of thousands of dollars in charitable donations for personal and campaign expenses.The Republican ex-lawmaker was indicted in Houston federal court on Tuesday along with Jason Posey. Both face a variety of charges, including mail and wire fraud, making excessive campaign contributions and money laundering. The indictment alleges both men misused much of $1.25 million in donations. Shaun Clarke, Stockman’s attorney, said Tuesday the ex-congressman “is an innocent man. He intends to enter a plea of not guilty.” Court records didn’t list an attorney for Posey.last_img read more

Political Roundup Healthcare Bill Stalls And The Special Session Begins

first_imgIt’s time again for our weekly political roundup and analysis of national, state, and local political stories.On this edition, we discuss Senate Republicans lacking enough support to repeal and replace Obamacare and instead opting to move forward with a vote on a measure to repeal the law. Plus we discuss what’s at stake in the special session of the Texas Legislature, which began Tuesday. And we examine other recent political developments with an eye for how they might affect Houston and Texas.Today, our guests are: Jay Aiyer, from Texas Southern University and co-host of Houston Public Media’s Party Politics podcast; Andrew Schneider, politics and government reporter for News 88.7; and Dr. David Branham, professor of political science at the University of Houston-Downtown. Sharelast_img read more

Trump Offers FlagWaving Optimism In Visit To Harveys Path

first_img Share twitter user @politicoTrump arrives in devastated TexasCORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (AP) — With flag-waving optimism, President Donald Trump answered Harvey’s wrath Tuesday by offering in-person assurances to those in the storm zone that his administration will work tirelessly to help the region recover from the massive flooding and storm-inflicted destruction. “We are going to get you back and operating immediately,” Trump told an impromptu crowd that gathered outside a Corpus Christi fire station about 30 miles from where the storm made landfall on Friday. For all of his eagerness to get the federal disaster response right, though, Trump missed clear opportunities to strike a sympathetic note for multitudes who are suffering. The president did not mention those who died in the storm or those forced from their homes by its floodwaters. And he basked in the attention of cheering supporters outside the fire station where officials briefed him on the recovery. “What a crowd, what a turnout,” Trump declared before waving a Texas flag from atop a step ladder positioned between two fire trucks. “This is historic. It’s epic what happened, but you know what, it happened in Texas, and Texas can handle anything.” Trump is clearly determined to seize the moment and show a forceful response to Harvey, mindful of the political opportunities and risks that natural disasters pose for any president. Trump has been suffering from low approval ratings and self-created crisis, and the White House is eager to show him as a forceful leader in a time of trouble. The president kept his distance from the epicenter of the damage in Houston to avoid disrupting recovery operations. But he plans to return to the region on Saturday, and Vice President Mike Pence will visit as well. What little damage Trump saw — boarded up windows, downed tree limbs and fences askew — was through the tinted windows of his SUV as his motorcade ferried him from the Corpus Christi airport to the firehouse in a city that’s already nearly back to normal. Trump spoke optimistically about the pace of the recovery, and predicted his response would be a textbook case for future presidents. “We want to do it better than ever before,” he said. “We want to be looked at in five years, in 10 years from now as, ‘This is the way to do it.’” Then it was on to his next stop, Austin, to meet with officials at the state emergency operations center. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Trump showed “genuine compassion” on the short flight to Austin as they watched video footage of the flooding in Houston. “The president was heartbroken by what he saw,” the governor said.  But Ari Fleischer, who served as press secretary to former President George W. Bush, said there was something missing from Trump’s remarks in Corpus Christi: “Empathy for the people who suffer.” “The first thing he should have said was that his heart goes out to those people in Houston who are going through this, and that the government is here to help them recover,” Fleischer told Fox News Channel. It’s long been presidential practice to avoid visiting the most devastated areas of a natural disaster while recovery is still in the early stages, to avoid getting in the way or diverting critical resources. In Texas, residents seemed to understand.Before Trump landed in Texas, Louis Sirianni arrived at his beach house in Rockport, about 20 miles outside Corpus Christi, to assess damage. Sirianni said he appreciated Trump’s gesture and understood why there were no plans to take him into the hardest-hit area. “He’d see enough if he came along here in a helicopter,” Sirianni said on a balcony accessible only by a 12-foot aluminum extension ladder. In downtown Rockport, John Murray had a pair of boards in front of his hair salon spray-painted with “Bet They Blame Trump.” “He could go for a walk and they’d find something to complain about,” like jaywalking, Murray said. Trump, wearing a black rain slicker emblazoned with a presidential seal, traveled with first lady Melania Trump and Cabinet secretaries who will play key roles in the recovery. Mrs. Trump traded in her usual stiletto heels for a pair of white sneakers and wore a black cap that read “FLOTUS,” an acronym for “first lady of the United States.”  In a statement, the first lady said that “what I found to be the most profound during the visit was not only the strength and resilience of the people of Texas, but the compassion and sense of community that has taken over the state.” The president, during his stop in Austin, said it was a “sad thing” that the recovery would be a “long-term” operation. His largely upbeat reassurances about a speedy recovery, though, stood in contrast to the more measured assessments coming from emergency management officials. There’s a long, difficult road ahead in recovering from a storm whose flooding has displaced tens of thousands, those officials have cautioned. And the president’s vow of swift action on billions of dollars in disaster aid is at odds with his proposed budget, which would eliminate the program that helps Americans without flood insurance rebuild their homes and cuts grants to help states reduce the risk of flooding before disaster strikes. Trump’s budget proposal for 2018 zeroes out Community Development Block Grants, a key program that helped the Gulf Coast rebuild after Hurricane Katrina. The same program helped New York and New Jersey come back from Superstorm Sandy. Among other things, the grants help people without flood insurance coverage rebuild their homes. In the 2017 budget, the Republican-led Congress restored some of the funds. While Trump’s pending budget request didn’t touch the core disaster aid account, it proposed cutting several grant programs that help states reduce flood risks before a disaster strikes and improve outdated flood maps. All told, Trump proposed cutting such grant programs by about $900 million. Former Democratic President Barack Obama also cast a skeptical eye, proposing cuts roughly two-thirds as large as Trump in his final FEMA budget. __ Superville reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Jill Colvin and Andrew B. Taylor in Washington and Kelly P. Kissel in Rockport, Texas, contributed to this report. __ On Twitter follow Ken Thomas at https://twitter.com/KThomasDC ___ For complete Harvey coverage, visit https://apnews.com/tag/HurricaneHarveylast_img read more

UPDATE List Of School Districts To Reopen Tomorrow

first_imgAldine ISDAlief ISDAlvin ISDAnahuac ISDAngleton ISDBrazosport ISDClear Creek ISDCleveland ISDCrosby ISDCypress-Fairbanks ISDDayton ISDDeer Park ISDDickinson ISDFort Bend ISDFriendswood ISDGalena Park ISDGalveston ISDHitchcock ISDHouston ISDHuffman ISDHumble ISDKaty ISDKIPPKlein ISDLa Porte ISDLamar CISDMagnolia ISDNeedville ISDNew Caney ISDPasadena ISDPearland ISDSanta Fe ISDSheldon ISDSplendora ISDSpring ISDSpring Branch ISDTexas City ISDTomball ISDWaller ISDYES Prep Public Schools Share Wikimedia CommonsThe past two days of inclement winter weather have caused many school districts in the Houston area to cancel school through Wednesday.However some districts have announced they will be back in session and operating normally for Thursday.Houston ISD, Katy ISD and Tomball ISD specifically have stated that they will be operating on their normal schedule starting tomorrow.Below is a full list of school districts that will reopen Thursday, January 18, 2018:last_img read more

Broward Sheriff Under Scrutiny For Handling Of Parkland Shooting

first_img Share Mark Wilson/Getty ImagesSome Republican lawmakers in Florida are calling on Gov. Rick Scott to remove Broward Sheriff Scott Israel. The sheriff (center) and Scott (right) are seen here on Feb. 15, the day after the shooting.Florida Gov. Rick Scott has ordered an investigation into law enforcement’s response to the shooting in Parkland earlier this month.Broward Sheriff Scott Israel is under scrutiny for how his office handled complaints it received about Cruz in the years before the shooting, as well as reports that deputies failed to act during the shooting itself.Deputy Scot Peterson, armed with a handgun as the school resource officer, was placed on unpaid suspension and quickly resigned after video showed him standing outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School for more than four minutes during the rampage, rather than entering the building to engage the shooter.On Thursday, Israel criticized Peterson and said he was “sick to [his] stomach” at the deputy’s inaction.Also on Thursday, the Broward Sheriff’s Office released the details of the 18 to 20 calls it had received since 2008 concerning Cruz.Florida Speaker of the House Richard Corcoran, whom the Miami Herald notes is likely to run for governor, sent a letter to Gov. Scott on Sunday, calling for the sheriff’s immediate suspension. Scott, a Republican, ordered an investigation but has not suspended Israel, who is a Democrat.The FBI has already apologized for failing to act on a tip it received about shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz in January, and the governor called for the resignation of FBI Director Christopher Wray.Corcoran’s letter, signed by 73 state House Republicans, points to the litany of complaints the Broward Sheriff’s Office received about Cruz in recent years – about which, they write “[n]othing was done.” They say that Israel “failed to maintain a culture of alertness, vigilance, and thoroughness among his deputies,” and did not ensure that deputies had adequate active-shooter tactical training.In a letter to the governor, responding to a call on Saturday by state Rep. Bill Hager for him to resign, Israel defended his office’s response, saying “nearly all but two involved routine calls from [Cruz’s] mother relating to parenting issues (her sons were fighting; her son was banging pool equipment against the house; etc)” and none involved “arrestable offences.”But some of the calls paint a darker picture than routine parenting issues, including instances in which Linda Cruz said Nikolas threw her against the wall for taking away his Xbox, and a report by a school counselor that “Cruz was alleged to have possibly ingested gasoline prior in an attempt to commit suicide and is cutting himself. Cruz indicated he wished to purchase a gun for hunting and was in possession of items concerning hate related communications/ symbols.”In these two incidents, mental health counselors advised that Cruz did not meet the criteria for the Baker Act. That’s the Florida law that allows for emergency mental health treatment and evaluation, including involuntary detention for up to 72 hours if certain conditions are met. (Florida lawmakers are now proposing giving law enforcement the ability to confiscate firearms from people deemed to be a threat to themselves or others for 72 hours. During that time, authorities can seek a court order as part of the Baker Act to hold the firearms for 60 days or longer.)While he defends his office’s handling of most of the calls, Israel says internal affairs is investigating the response to two of them.One of those incidents involves a call in February 2016 about an Instagram photo of Cruz with guns, along with a concern that he “planned to shoot up the school.” A deputy responded, learned that Cruz possessed knives and a BB gun, and forwarded the information to the resource officer at Stoneman Douglas.In the second incident, a caller from Massachusetts reported in November that Cruz was collecting guns and knives, and the caller was concerned Cruz might kill himself and believed he could be “a school shooter in the making.”That call resulted in no report by the Broward Sheriff’s Office. A deputy instead referred the caller to the sheriff in Palm Beach County, where Cruz had moved.NBC and CNN reported on Saturday that Coral Springs police officers say that when they arrived at Stoneman Douglas, three sheriff’s deputies were present but had not entered the school. The sources told CNN the deputies had their pistols drawn and were waiting behind their vehicles. (The Coral Springs Police Department says that “any action or inaction … will be investigated thoroughly.”)Questioned about the report, Israel told CNN’s Tapper, “At this point, we have no reason to believe that anyone acted incorrectly or correctly. That’s what an investigation is. … And if they did things wrong, I will take care of business in a disciplinary matter, like I did with Peterson.”Tapper asked Israel how he responded to the call for him to resign.“Of course I won’t resign,” he replied, and called Hager’s letter politically motivated and full of mistakes.Tapper expressed surprise that Israel was not taking responsibility for his agency’s lack of action on the calls that it had received about Cruz.“I have given amazing leadership to this agency,” Israel said. “On 16 of those cases, our deputies did everything right. Our deputies have done amazing things. … In the five years I have been sheriff, we have taken the Broward Sheriff’s Office to a new level. I have worked with some of the bravest people I have ever met. One person — at this point, one person didn’t do what he should have done.”After the interview, the governor called for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate law enforcement’s response to the shooting.“BSO will fully cooperate with FDLE, as we believe in full transparency and accountability,” Israel said in a statement. “This independent, outside review will ensure public confidence in the findings.”Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.last_img read more

Mitch McConnell Cancels Senates August Recess

first_img Share J. Scott Applewhite/APSenate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., center, tells reporters he intends to cancel the traditional August recess to deal with backlogged tasks.Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., announced Tuesday he is canceling the annual August recess to deal with a legislative backlog he blamed on the chamber’s Democratic minority.“Due to the historic obstruction by Senate Democrats of the president’s nominees, and the goal of passing appropriations bills prior to the end of the fiscal year, the August recess has been canceled,” McConnell said in a statement that made official a decision that had been anticipated for weeks.The House and Senate are working to pass as many of the annual twelve spending bills as possible ahead of the Sept. 30 fiscal-year deadline, and McConnell said those bills will now be a priority in August. McConnell has also made it a top priority to confirm as many of President Trump’s lifetime judicial appointments as possible this year.McConnell said senators will still get the first week of the month off, but return to Washington, D.C., for the rest of the month. Politically, the decision will also keep vulnerable Democrats on the Senate floor and off the trail at a time usually dedicated to campaigning back home. Democrats have far more incumbents seeking re-election this year, and keeping them off the trail could be to the GOP’s advantage.Democrats responded by embracing the new work schedule. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Democrats will spend August working on health care legislation to help lower premiums that are expected to rise this fall in part due to Republicans’ eliminating the individual mandate to buy health insurance in their tax cut legislation.Schumer also challenged President Trump to join the Senate and cancel his own summer vacation plans. “We assume he’ll be here in Washington working right alongside us. Given the urgency of these weeks, we presume he won’t be jetting off to Bedminster or Mar-a-Lago or spending countless hours on the golf course,” Schumer said, in reference to two of Trump’s favorite self-owned destinations.House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., has not shared McConnell’s enthusiasm for canceling the August recess. All 435 members of the House are up for re-election every two years so there is an even greater demand in that chamber to head home to campaign. The House is scheduled to adjourn July 26 for the August break, and not return until after Labor Day.McConnell appears committed to the new schedule, but he has changed his mind before. Last year, he also announced he would delay the August break by two weeks, but then ended up keeping the Senate in session for one week instead.Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.last_img read more