Category Archives: City of Houston

Register Today!: Mayor’s Back to School Festival

Click on the image to register for this mid-August event.

Back2School2016.11x17 FINAL

Rally to Raise Houston – Friday May 27

seiujanitorsTen years ago, Houston Janitors won a courageous battle for better wages and working conditions. Ten years later, the Janitors are fighting to to get ahead and to achieve a new contract with major office building owners to contract with better paying contractors.

Members of the SEIU invite all of Houston to join the Houston Janitors as they as they come together to fight for dignity, respect, and fair pay.

FRIDAY, MAY 27, 2016 at 4PM

2000 Post Oak Blvd., Houston, TX 77056 

The facts are these. 30% of workforce makes less than $12/hour. Union janitors make an average of $9.35/hour. And Janitors in other cities make more, while rent for offices are less than what Houston building owners make.

IF THE CONTRACTORS WIN

  • Wages as low as $29 a day

  • No guaranteed wage increase

  • No affordable benefits

  • No vacation time

  • Seniority is not recognized

  • No paid holidays

  • No way to solve job problems

IF WE STAND UP FOR OUR UNION

  • Wages at least $9.35/hr

  • Guaranteed yearly wage increase

  • Affordable health care when you work 30+ hours

  • 1 week vacation/year

  • With seniority, up to 2 weeks vacation

  • 6 paid holidays

  • Regular way to solve job problems

Central Business District Office Rents and Union Janitorial Wages

City CBD

Rental Rates ($/sq ft)

Janitor Wages ($/hr)

Houston

41.12

9.35

Seattle

39.12

15.75

Chicago

36.79

16.76

Denver

34.21

12.60

San Diego

29.28

11.65

Philadelphia

28.19

16.89

Minneapolis

27.18

15.12

Detroit

20.64

11.97

Source: JLL quarterly office statistics reports (2015 Q4), SEIU contracts.

Mayor Turner Announces Resource Fairs in his March on Crime

turnerMayor Sylvester Turner has the right idea.  The best way to combat crime is to provide resources to low income, high crime areas. Mayor Turner announced the development of resources fairs that will provide these areas with access to job training, resume writing assistance, social services agencies, among other needed services, especially to those trying to turn their lives around after some lapses in judgment. Recidivism is a major challenge in our community that could be overcome by just opening minds and opportunities for an often stigmatized group of people. Here’s more info:

Turnaround Houston will offer access to job training, resume writing, tattoo removal, social service agencies, educational institutions, counseling and intervention to help hard to employ Houstonians turn their lives around.

“There are Houstonians who have difficulty securing employment due to a variety of reasons which may include a lack of education, prior criminal history, poverty, mental health issues and a lack of positive influences,” said Mayor Turner. “There is a part of our city that is in dire need of assistance and it’s our responsibility to ensure that they are plugged into vital resources and become a part of our city’s success. With the launch of Turnaround Houston, we want to eliminate the barriers to employment by offering a roadmap to a brighter future.”

As a part of this initiative, Houstonians who are hard to employ should also know that if they connect with the resources that are available, they can turn their lives around. There are thousands of success stories in the city, one such example is Angel Ponce who works in theMayor‘s Office of People with Disabilities. Ponce was previously involved with a gang and suffered a life altering accident which finally pushed him on the right track.

“I used to have tattoos on my face, I didn’t care what I looked like and I didn’t have a future. I had known about the services available to me at the City of Houston through the Mayor’s Anti-Gang Office, but I didn’t take advantage of them until I suffered a spinal injury which caused me to re-assess my life. I am now a productive part of society helping former gang members and those with disabilities such as my own. This wouldn’t have been possible without the City’s resources,” said Ponce.

Each Turnaround Houston resource fair will include workshops on resume creation and interview tips. Participants can also learn how to start their own businesses and hear the success stories of Houstonians who have received a second chance.

The first resource fair will take place Saturday, March 26, 2016 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Sunnyside Multi-Service Center, 9413 Cullen Blvd, Houston, TX 77033 and is sponsored by Houston First and the Port of Houston Authority.  The dates for the additional fairs will be announced at a later time.

Turnaround Houston resource partners- Include:

  • The Office of Business Opportunity
  • Mental Health Services –Health Department
  • Mayor’s Anti-Gang Office
  • The City of Houston’s Re-entry program
  • Workforce Solutions/Neighborhood Centers
  • SER Jobs for Progress
  • Houston Area Urban League
  • Dress for Success
  • Career Gear
  • Franklin Beauty School
  • Summer Jobs Program-City of Houston

To see a full list of employers, resource partners and to register log on to www.turnaroundhouston.org.

 

Juliet Stipeche Joins Turner Administration

stipecheCongrats to one of my favorite great minds in the world, Juliet Stipeche, on being named Mayor Sylvester Turner’s Director of Education. It isn’t often when one meets such an intelligent and forward-thinking individual who has been able to push through the political muck and still end up being productive–and for all the right reasons. She’ll be great at this job.

Here’s the press release:

Mayor Sylvester Turner has selected former Houston Independent School District Trustee Juliet Stipeche to serve as Director of Education, a new position within the mayor’s administration.

“Juliet is very passionate about education and children and I share that passion,” said Mayor Turner.  “She is a visionary with transformative ideas.  Her collaborative approach of working with parents, administrators, business, law enforcement and neighborhoods will help achieve my goal of moving this city forward and reducing the income inequality that is so often the result of deficiencies in the education system.”

Stipeche comes to the mayor’s office from Rice University where she was Associate Director of the Richard Tapia Center for Excellence and Equity.  She spent five years as a trustee on the Houston Independent School District Board, including serving as President in 2014.  Since 2007, she has been Shareholder of Counsel at Nagorny & Stipeche, P.C.  She has written and presented lectures on nearly 20 topics ranging from demanding excellence in education to empowering students in today’s world to educating for equity in Texas.  Her law degree was earned at the University of Texas and she graduated magna cum laude from Rice University with a B.A. in Political Science, Policy Studies and Religious Studies

Stipeche’s professional affiliations include membership in the State Bar of Texas, the National Association of Latino Elected Officials, the Mexican American Bar Association, the Hispanic Bar Association of Houston, the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, The Texas Association of School Boards and the National School Boards Association.

“The creation of this new position is meant to compliment, not compete, with the hard work of our area school districts,” said Turner.  “Creating the strong, well-educated Houston of tomorrow will require everyone working together.  Juliet is the perfect choice for ensuring my vision gets implemented.”

“I am excited and deeply honored to work with Mayor Sylvester Turner, who is committed to building a City where educational equity and opportunity exist for every child regardless of zip code,” said Stipeche.  “I look forward to collaborating with fantastic community partners to build lasting relationships to promote educational excellence in the City of Houston.”

Stipeche joined Mayor Turner’s administration effective February 1, 2016.

#StaceSlate Goes 5-2; Houston Elects Turner

Thanks to not picking in a couple of races, I went 5-2 with my City of Houston run-off picks. Congratulations to Sylvester Turner, Chris Brown, David Robinson, Amanda Edwards, and Mike Laster, AKA The StaceSlate. Of course, I am saddened to lose my own CM Nguyen–but not by much. And about my friend, Jason Cisneroz, I will say that he’s not done yet.

Here are a few thoughts that came to mind as the vote was coming in:

21.36%:  Turnout was sad, to say the least. It is safe to say that if over 700K other Houstonians really cared about their city (other than standing in line for hours at Krispy Kreme or spending the time to find a matching arm cast for their #99 jerseys), we’d have some major wins on election night. I don’t know what the solution is, but while a few non-voters may have issues with those in the running, at some point one just has to chalk it up to laziness and lack of caring. Or as my favorite t-shirt states:  Los Pendejos No Votan.

And Then There Was One: Latinos are now left with one Latino on the Council table–Robert Gallegos. As I half-jokingly, half-seriously told someone close to Gallegos, he’s also reppin’ us brown folks on the west side of town. Some will say we shouldn’t break things down by race or ethnicity, but I say those folks miss the mark with their hopes for some sort of utopia. No one understands a community better than someone who has had close to similar experiences–at times it may be socioeconomic circumstances, other times it may be due to similar negative experiences at the hands of right wingers. Of course, sometimes, ethnic representation isn’t all it is cracked up to be, and to this, I thank Amanda Edwards for handing Right-Wing Roy Morales an embarrassing loss. Ultimately, representation is also about standing and defending against what is wrong in the world, so, we have a responsibility to elect the right people. It would just be nice if we could elect a few brown people; especially citywide. Hint-Hint:  2019 At-Large seats!

2016: Whether it was the city elections or the coming Democratic Primary, I’ve heard (and read) friends of mine bemoan competitive races. There were folks upset we had Turner, Garcia, McVey, and the other guy who called himself a Dem but endorsed the right-winger in the run-off, but it made for great discussion (for those listening). It’d be nice to coalesce behind one candidate early-on, but that’s not what democracy is all about. Besides, we all want there to be a coalescing behind “our” candidate. The 2016 primary will have some competitive races, and already I’m getting friend requests and follows from some of the competitors. And that’s the way it should be, if we’re really into that democracy thing. Sure, it might get negative, ugly, we may see law firms trying to buy candidates, and churches violating the separation of church and state (which I hold dear) by endorsing candidates, but until we decide to really fix things, then complaining about competitive elections because we like a particular candidate and not the other doesn’t help democracy. Actually, none of the aforementioned stuff helps democracy and is a reason some people may not vote, but that’s for another discussion–if we really want to have it.

Congrats to the winners; serve us well.

 

 

 

 

Ed Gonzalez Files for Harris County Sheriff

cafeed2Mayor Pro-Tem Ed Gonzalez announced through Facebook that he had filed to seek the Dem nomination for Harris County Sheriff.

This afternoon I officially filed for a place on the ballot to serve as your next Harris County Sheriff!

I’m a proud life-long Houstonian and have spent the last 24 years as a public servant. As our city’s Mayor Pro-Tem and as an 18-year veteran of the Houston Police Department, I’ve dedicated my career to: crafting innovative and effective solutions to modern-day crime issues, transforming government through the use of innovation and technology, improving mobility and infrastructure, and ensuring that our city’s future leaders have access to world-class educational opportunities.

As your next Sheriff, I’ll keep our families safe, the budget balanced, and criminals off our streets. I’ll ensure that the Harris County Sheriff’s Office is transparent, efficient, and responsive to the needs of every neighborhood. Thank you for your support as we embark on this campaign!

With Gonzalez’s entry into the 2016 political scene, we have an exciting candidate with a record of effective service to the community. As Mayor Pro-Tem, his reach has gone beyond the District H he serves. And, as he finishes his third term, he’s kept on working hard for Houston as was noticed this past weekend with the opening of CafeCollege Houston–a service for all Houstonians who want to go to college or find information on how to change careers and earn workforce certifications in which Gonzalez played a major role in developing. Obviously, his service as a local police officer gives him an edge in regards to political viability and the ability to manage HCSO.

I couldn’t think of anyone better to lead our countywide slate in 2016.

 

CafeCollege: A Great Community Resource

I had the chance to attend the ribbon cutting ceremony for CafeCollege Houston–a brand new resource for the community to assist school kids and adults with college-going services.

After San Antonio, under then-Mayor Julian Castro, developed something similar, Mayor Pro-Tem Ed Gonzalez came up with the idea and brought it to Mayor Annise Parker this past summer. Within a few months, along with funding provided by Gonzalez’s budget, a partnership was created between The City, Houston Public Libraries, and ProjectGRAD. Soon after, a location was set-up at Near-Northside’s Carnegie Library.

The Mayor Pro-Tem gave me a quick pre-show tour and I must say it’s an impressive location that will get anyone excited about college.

Café College Houston is a “one-stop-shop” for teens and adults to receive help in finding the right college, SAT & ACT preparation, college admissions assistance, career guidance, and help applying for financial aid. Whether attending college to get a degree or work on a certificate for a professional trade, Café College Houston will have experts offering support through each step. No one is too young or too old to get started.

Mayor Pro-Tem Ed Gonzalez believes that “Café College Houston will transform the way that our communities learn about educational and career opportunities. I’m proud to launch this initiative in District H and to bring this important resource to our children and families. Folks from across our great city will be able to apply to college, search for financial aid, get career guidance, and prepare for acceptance exams — all under one roof. Café College Houston will empower our citizens and allow every Houstonian to achieve their dreams.”

Café College Houston is an innovative public-private partnership between the City of Houston, Mayor Pro-Tem Ed Gonzalez, the Houston Public Library, Project GRAD Houston, Houston Municipal Courts, and the City of San Antonio. Café College was first implemented in San Antonio and is one of two statewide pilot programs for the Texas College Access Network.

 

 

Turner Earns Major Latino Nods

turnerToday is Early Vote Saturday for the 2015 Mayoral election, and according to some of my friends in the know, Latinos made up 8% of the total vote cast, thus far. No doubt, this is dismal, and if Latinos expect to play an influential part in this election, Latino turnout must increase–and in favor of Sylvester Turner, Chris Brown, Amanda Edwards, David Robinson, Richard Nguyen, Mike Laster, and Jason Cisneroz.

On Friday, Mayoral candidate Sylvester Turner earned the endorsement of Congressman Joaquin Castro, who served in the Texas Lege with Turner.

“…I saw firsthand his commitment to working on the issues that matter to Houston’s middle class families; jobs, education and opportunity for all. Sylvester will unite the people of Houston and move the city forward.”

Former Mayoral candidate Adrian Garcia held a press conference outside of Moody Park to urge Latinos to come out and vote and support Sylvester Turner.

“Houston’s future is too critical for our city to be allowed to go back to basics,” said Garcia.  “If you don’t vote, we risk setting our city on a backwards course.  Everyone, especially Hispanics, should vote for Sylvester Turner for mayor.”

HISD Trustee Juliet Stipeche also added her support for Turner.

“Sylvester will build bridges and collaborate with our schools,” Stipeche said.  “Every child deserves a bright future.  I urge everyone to vote for Sylvester Turner, a leader who believes in that bright future.”

Turner has long been a supporter of Latino issues, while also defending against some of the worst policies offered by Republicans (who support Bill King).

  • Voted NO on anti-Latino “Sanctuary Cities” bill
  • Voted NO on Voter ID that limited Latino voting opportunities
  • Voted NO on Redistricting maps that diluted Latino voting strength
  • Supports expanding Medicaid and affordable health insurance

Turner also offers the best and workable solutions to Houston’s challenges, whether it increasing public safety, fixing our streets, or expanding economic opportunity for all–and through fiscally responsible methods.

I urge Latinos in Houston to vote Sylvester Turner. Today (Saturday, 12/5/2015) is a gorgeous day. There is no excuse to not show up at the polls. VOTE TODAY!

IF WE DON’T VOTE – WE WON’T MATTER

The Stace Run-Off Slate 2015

LatinoVoteMayor:  Sylvester Turner ~ Rep. Turner is the only candidate with a realistic plan to keep Houston moving forward. He not only recognizes the diversity of Houston, but wants to move the city toward equality for all, especially regarding equality in socioeconomic status. When it comes to roads, Rep. Turner wants to ensure they are paid for, rather than drown the City in debt. The City faces some challenges in the future and it will take someone like Rep. Turner to stand up to gloom-n-doom ideas like his opponent’s, and, instead, stand up for the needs of the City. Vote Sylvester Turner for Mayor.

Controller:  Chris Brown ~ Chris Brown has the institutional knowledge–twelve years of working in city finances–that taxpayers need. He’s a professional in the field and offers years of experience in producing effective governmental audits. Chris Brown will be a practical, forward-thinking City Controller. Houston needs a Controller who will ensure that our City Council members are presented with options, rather than a financial map to nowhere. I’m voting Chris Brown for City Controller.

At-Large 2:  David Robinson. Robinson had a great first term. He leads and brings people together. Vote Robinson!

At-Large 4:  Amanda Edwards ~ Edwards is a forward-thinking woman who offers some much needed energy to the Council table. I’m voting Edwards.

District H:  Jason Cisneroz ~ Did you see Jason’s performance on Viva Houston? Jason is the young, articulate, energetic, Latino candidate District H needs to ensure its needs are addressed. Vote Jason!

District J:  Mike Laster ~ Mike’s the incumbent. He’s done a great job–and he served as my Council Member for a couple of years before I moved to District F. Vote Laster!

District F:  Richard Nguyen ~ Let’s get Richard re-elected. He has served our neighborhoods well, even the small part on “this” side of the beltway. Richard represents everyone in the district, and that’s why I like residing in F. Vote Nguyen!

Click here for Early Voting Locations

December 2 – December 5: 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

December 6: 1:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

December 7 – December 8: 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m

 

 

Cafe College Coming to Houston

When the notice from the City of Houston landed on my inbox, I must say that I was pretty excited. Something like CafeCollege, which helps prospective college students through the college-going process, has been needed for a long time. I recall then-Mayor Julian Castro of San Antonio pushed this concept through, and I now send kudos to Mayor Annise Parker and all involved for bringing it to Houston.

Here’s the info on the grand opening of CafeCollege Houston:

Cafécollege Houston – Grand Opening at the Houston Public Library

Saturday, December 5, 2015 at 10 AM

Cafécollege Houston at the Houston Public Library (HPL) is a free resource and service center offering assistance to anyone with the desire to go to college and to also encourage those who are undecided about attending. Cafécollege Houston is located at Carnegie Neighborhood Library and Center for Learning at 1050 Quitman, 77009, 832-393-1720. The community is invited to the Grand Opening on Saturday, December 5, 2015 at 10 AM. This center will provide the opportunity to make college dreams become a reality.

Cafécollege Houston is a “one-stop-shop” for teens and adults to receive help in finding the right college; SAT and ACT preparation, college admission assistance, filling out college applications, workshops, deciding on a career, finding financial aid; as well as having free Wi-Fi available. Whether attending college to get a degree or work on a certificate for a professional trade, HPL will have experts offering guidance to every applicant to make sure they get help through each step.  No one is too young or too old to get started.

Kicking off the grand opening celebration will be:
Dr. Rhea Brown Lawson, Director, Houston Public Library
Mayor Annise D. Parker, City of Houston
Ed Gonzalez, Mayor Pro-Tem, District H, City of Houston
Ann B. Stiles, Ed.D., President & CEO, Project GRAD Houston
Dr. Adriana Contreras, Executive Director, San Antonio Education Partnership / cafécollege

Cafécollege Houston is an educational partnership between the City of Houston, Ed Gonzalez, Mayor Pro-Tem, District H, the Houston Public Library, Project Grad Houston, and the City of San Antonio.

Cafécollege was implemented in the City of San Antonio and is one of two statewide pilot programs for the Texas College Access Network (TxCAN).

Houston Public Library’s cafécollege Houston hours of operation will be:
Tuesday – Thursday, 9 AM – 7 PM
Friday, 1 PM – 5 PM
Saturday, 10 AM – 3 PM