I'd like to start this week's edition of my community-building diary series, "Htown News You Can Use" with a favorite qoute.
"Every thoughtful dialogue is an act of rebellion against ignorance and cynicism, just as every act of kindness is an act of rebellion against cruelty and selfishness. Every time we listen to each other, every time we laugh and hug, we stand against those who want to tell us what we must think and who we must hate." M. Morford, SF Gate columnistFollow me below the jump for community, business and nonprofit news from Houston, Texas. Home of the Rockets, Astros, Texans, and Dynmao, as well as the Menil Collection, and the Rothko Chapel. Don't mind our lesbian Mayor, Annise Parker. She's just taking names and kickin' butt despite the fact that much of the city is still run the good ol' boys.
What follows is information from various news sites, either realting to Houston, or from a Houston perspective. I welcome feedback about what you'd like hear more about here.
HISD and HCC consider stricter ethics rules to polish their images
The boards of the Houston Independent School District and Houston Community College are considering tightening their ethics rules amid questions about conflicts of interest and favoritism in business deals. Proposals under discussion at both entities would restrict campaign donations and require increased disclosure from trustees, exceeding the requirements of Texas law.
HPD Announces New Ministers Partnership
The Houston Police Department says a new program aimed at uniting area ministers and HPD under one group against crime is a positive step. But some ministers say it's an attempt by the police department to silence clergy who don't agree with HPD policies. The new program is called the Police and Clergy Alliance, or PACA. It unites dozens of local ministers groups to form a united front on community and crime issues. It replaces older alliances that Police Chief Charles McClelland says have become
fractured over the years.
Metro in a quandary as transit funding heads to voters
The Metropolitan Transit Authority is preparing for a referendum, likely to be on the November ballot, asking voters to decide whether to put millions more of their sales tax dollars toward transit or continue diverting part of it for road projects in their cities and Harris County. Metro, per the 1978 referendum that created it, receives most of its funding from a 1 percent sales tax levied within its service area, which includes much of unincorporated Harris County, the city of Houston and 14 smaller cities.
Feds seize mental health clinic records in Medicare fraud probe
Federal agents with search warrants seized hundreds of patient records from a Houston psychiatric hospital and its two mental health clinics Thursday, part of an escalating Medicare fraud investigation into financial exploitation and care of the mentally ill as detailed last year by the Houston Chronicle.
City in transition: Sociologist Stephen Klineberg examines Houston's rich/poor divide & what it means
With the Houston Area Survey, Rice University sociologist Stephen Klineberg has charted the attitudes of the region's citizens for three decades, creating what has become one of the most comprehensive records of an American city ever compiled.
Houston legal nonprofit moves into Austin
Texas Accountants and Lawyers for the Arts is opening a small Austin office in Austin Creative Alliance’s headquarters. TALA, a nonprofit based in Houston, provides free legal and accounting services to artists and arts nonprofits across the state. More than 600 attorneys and accountants volunteer their time each year, and handle more than 350 legal or accounting matters annually. The organization’s work amounts to more than $600,000 in donated services annually.
Shell’s really leaving: reported contract on Bellaire Blvd. research site, more up for sale
It’s taken almost four years since the company’s intentions to move were first announced, but a 3.27-acre chunk of the prime location where Shell Oil has operated research facilities for 76 years, at 3747 Bellaire Blvd. in Southside Place, is said to be under contract. The asking price was not revealed in the listing material for the property, which is zoned low-intensity mixed use by the city of Southside Place, but the Houston real estate website Swamplot reports that a listing agent says it is about $50 a square foot. HCAD’s latest figures for the property show its value at about $17 million.
Shale gas 'a blessing' for U.S., Mulva says
Shale production has put energy independence a step closer for North America and revolutionized the continent's global position in fossil-fuel production, ConocoPhillips CEO James Mulva said Thursday in his final public speech as head of the corporation. Mulva, who plans to retire following the split of ConocoPhillips into two distinct energy companies on May 1, touted the importance of domestic natural gas in boosting the U.S. economy.
Exxon Mobil's first-quarter profit falls
Exxon Mobil Corp.'s first-quarter profit slid 11 percent from the same period a year ago as a drop in production pushed earnings down despite high world oil prices. The world's largest publicly traded oil company, based in Irving, said Thursday its January-March net income was $9.45 billion, down from $10.65 billion in the first quarter of 2011. The figure was close to the $9.4 billion Exxon Mobil made in the fourth quarter of 2011, David Rosenthal, Exxon Mobil's vice president of investor relations, noted in a conference call discussing the results.
A day in the life with Dan Wolterman, CEO of Memorial Hermann Healthcare System
Dan Wolterman got his first taste of the health care world in college, and he was immediately hooked. He worked at the medical center on the University of Cincinnati campus, where both of his parents were employed, and decided as a junior that he’d make health care his career.
NONPROFIT / OTHER
Call for PR, Marketing and Communications Speakers
Request for proposals from subject matter experts to speak at PRSA Houston conference. PR Day, a one-day professional development event attracting top public relations and communication professionals in the Southeast Texas region, will be held on Wednesday, October 31, at the United Way of Greater Houston Conference Center. The theme for this year's conference, the region's largest PR professional event, will be "Treats of the Trade: Best Practices to Empower the Public Relations Pro."
Senate Votes to Reauthorize Domestic Violence Act
The Senate voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act and expand its reach to American Indians and homosexuals, after Republicans opted to sidestep an expected partisan brawl.
Opinion: How to Make Poor Kids $1 Million Richer
Anyone with half a brain knows that bolstering the middle class is critical to securing the future of the U.S. It’s a matter of national self-interest. Setting aside the misery of poverty for a minute, the rich need a skilled middle-class workforce to make their businesses successful or they won’t stay rich for long. Even the good programs have trouble achieving graduation rates of more than 50 percent. Part of the problem is that we haven’t marketed the value of a degree properly to families where no one has gone to college. They need to know that unemployment for college graduates is about 4 percent, compared with about 9 percent for those with only high-school educations.
Opinion: It’s Time to Stop Letting Congress Stomp on Nonprofit Advocacy Rights
Nonprofit organizations have fewer rights to speak out about important public-policy matters today than they did last year. The latest assault on advocacy came in a spending bill Congress approved to provide money to education, health, and human-service groups. These new restrictions on advocacy were passed as part of a coordinated campaign by conservatives to quash popular democracy.
Geek Squad, AARP Team Up to Give Seniors a Tech-Assist
Best Buy’s Geek Squad and AARP have announced a new program, designed to help seniors make the most of their technology. The Geek Squad tech support package for AARP members costs $169 per year. The program includes product discounts and support calls. Members can also receive phone, online and in-store advice from the Geek Squad.