Volume 17 :: Number 3
Fall 2012

City Savvy
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Department News

Mayor’s office
Mayor Annise Parker unveiled a $4.25 billion proposed city budget and a $1.92 billion general fund budget for fiscal 2012. The budget preserves public safety and is balanced without a property tax increase … The mayor unveiled plans for the ReBuild Houston Initiative. The program is the city’s plan to rebuild drainage and street infrastructure to improve quality of life and mobility for residents. Proposition 1, which was approved by voters last fall, required a city charter amendment. To support the amendment, the city is establishing a dedicated, pay-as-you-go fund to help maintain and improve the city's drainage and street infrastructure, and to plan upgrades to meet future needs as the city grows. – Janice Evans


Dozens of Texas airport directors gathered in Houston in September to discuss the future of the airline industry. Executives from George Bush Intercontinental Airport, Dallas/Fort Worth International, William P. Hobby, Austin-Bergstrom International, San Antonio International, Dallas Love Field, El Paso International and and several other commercial airports joined the discussion.

Rhonda C. Arnold, director of community relations, staff members and local organizations met with the Texas congressional delegation recently in Washington, D.C. to get an overview of aviation issues, including the FAA Reauthorization bill … Representatives from the Transportation Security Administration and Continental Airlines launched a program called “Project Airport” for disabled passengers who may have special needs when traveling. Special needs passengers met with TSA, airline and HAS officials, asked questions, and got a behind-the-scenes look at airport operations … The “Wings over Houston” air show, Oct. 15 and 16, featured the Canadian Forces Snowbirds and their nine-ship flying formations. Aviation enthusiasts also enjoyed close views of other airplanes, the United States Coast Guard rescue demonstrations, a recreation of World War II air battles, parachute aerobatics, and great food and music … In September, more than a dozen Texas airport executives shared their visions and concerns about common aviation issues such as funding, airline mergers, a softening economy, how drought conditions affects operations and rising overall costs. Texas’ public commercial airports serve more than 135 million passengers annually with many airports experiencing growth in either passenger and/or cargo service … HAS and TSA unveiled new software for the Advanced Image Technology scanners at George Bush Intercontinental and William P. Hobby airports. “IAH is excited to be one of the first airports to debut the cutting-edge AIT software that benefits our customers by getting security results immediately,” said Mary Case, IAH general manager. “The TSA is an important partner and together, we will enhance our customer service tremendously.” The new software, called Automated Target Recognition, provides privacy protection by eliminating specific passenger images. If anomalies are detected on a passenger, a generic computer-generated outline of a person appears on the AIT monitor, highlighting areas that require additional screening. TSA administrator John S. Pistole announced that the 300 millimeter wave AIT machines costing $44.8 million will be sent to U.S. airports … Aviation Director Mario C. Diaz sat down with Houston Public Radio host Andrew Schneider on the “Bauer Business Focus” show in September to discuss the future of Houston’s three airports … Officials met with a delegation from Taiwan to discuss a direct flight from Houston to Taipei. Taipei and Houston have been sister cities for 50 years. – Darian Ward


The department supported “National Night Out” events across the city Oct. 4. Held every year, “National Night Out” advocates neighborhood collaboration and friendliness as a way to battle crime … Now, you can keep up with the Houston Police Department on your mobile device. HPD announced the release of its first-ever podcast. "HPD Reports" provides citizens with monthly updates on the department's events and activities. The podcasts can be found at http://feeds.feedburner.com/hpdreports – Andrew Guy, Jr.


In September, HFD, State Farm Insurance and Clear Channel Outdoors held a press conference kicking off a safety campaign stressing the importance of working smoke detectors in homes throughout Houston. One out of three residential fires responded to by HFD are fires in homes without a smoke detector, or with a detector that does not work … In September, Stratford high school students viewed a dramatization of a car crash involving drunken drivers. The drama, “Shattered Dreams,” featured an EMS response, emergency room treatments, family notification and the arrest and booking of the drunk driver. In addition, an individual dressed as the "Grim Reaper" appeared periodically throughout the school day to select new victims, who were taken out of class, made up in white faces and dressed in black T-shirts to symbolize death. By the end of the day, every student had one or more "dead" classmates in the classroom. – Alicia Whitehead


A $3 million U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development grant to remove lead-based paint from 200 homes in Houston matches city bond funds from the Housing and Community Development Department. Since 1996, HDHHS has renovated 2,156 homes … The department has launched “See to Succeed” to provide free vision exams and eyeglasses to about 6,250 children from 6 to 18 years. Partners include Essilor Vision Foundation, Essilor Corporation, Kids Vision for Life, Berkeley Eye Center, The University of Houston Eye Institute, San Jacinto College, OneSight Foundation, Wal-Mart Corporation and the HDHHS Foundation … The Latino HIV Task Force offered free HIV testing in north, east and southwest Houston Oct. 15 as part of National Latino Aids Awareness Day. Hispanics in Houston and Harris County represent 22 percent of the HIV infections reported since 1999, and 18 percent of AIDS cases reported since 1981. The task force, created in 2002, is comprised of health agencies and community organizations that administer HIV and AIDS prevention programs or medical treatment in communities … A $500,000 Community Transformation Grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will help the department conduct health needs assessments and create plans to help Houstonians battle chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes and other conditions. – Porfirio Villarreal


Solid Waste Management
Congratulations to Javier Frutos for winning the Lunch Bunch Toastmasters' Humorous Speaking Contest and for a second place finish in the district toastmaster contest … Houston Mayor Annise D. Parker, City Councilwoman Brenda Stardig and Solid Waste Management announced a partnership with CompuCycle, an electronics recycling company. The city’s permanent electronics drop-off site, 7700 Kempwood Drive, is open Monday – Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. In addition to electronics recycling, residents can also recycle common household items like paper, plastics, aluminum and glass … Kudos to recent retiree Larry Smith. Smith was at the scene of an accident and aided a citizen. The citizen was grateful and called to commend Smith. SWM thanks Smith and wishes him a happy retirement after 30 years of service. – Marina Coryat


Mayor’s office
October was National Disability Awareness Month. The Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities held a kickoff event with community partners Friday, Oct. 7, at the Multi-Service Center Auditorium, 1475 West Gray St. The event included door prizes and refreshments … Nominations are being sought for the Mayor’s Disability Advocate of the Year Award. The award recognizes and honors advocates who, through their volunteerism, have provided efforts toward one or more of the following: increasing awareness of disability issues in the nondisabled Houston community, working toward dissolution of one or more barriers for people with disabilities and acting as a voice for those who have difficulty or cannot represent themselves. Selected every year are two adult disability advocates, one with a disability and one without, and one youth disability advocate. At the discretion of the people with disabilities selection committee, one posthumous award may be given. For more information and a nominating form, visit www.houstontx.gov/disabilities/advocateaward.html ... Mayor Annise Parker signed an executive order extending Houston’s burn ban to smoking in city parks. The smoking ban applies to cigars, cigarettes, pipes or any other device used for burning tobacco or other plant material. The order also bans the use of barbecue grills and all other outdoor burning in city parks. The new restrictions are now consistent with Harris County's burn ban. Violations of the order carry fines up to $2,000 per offense. The executive order will remain in effect until drought conditions improve. – Janice Evans


Human Resources
Welcome to our abode Kelly Shreck, Matt Russell and Juan Padilla, who joined the HR department’s employee relations/labor relations team in January. Because of a lack of available space, however, they only recently physically moved from the seventh floor to the forth floor with the rest of HR … Also welcome to Jacqueline Gordon, Ken Waterhouse, and Cory Worden… The selection services division celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 … Kudos to Chevelle Wilson, who received her Human Resources Information Professional certification in August. She’s one of just 18 people statewide, and eight in the city, with the certification … The information systems division will soon revamp the employee self-service application to make it more functional and user-friendly … City health-insurance provider CIGNA has a new onsite advocate at 611 Walker, Fourth floor. Teresa Blake will provide individual health coaching, onsite health and wellness seminars and health awareness campaigns. – Dave Schafer


Parks and Recreation
HPARD, along with Houston Mayor Annise Parker and the Houston Fire Department, announced “People Protecting Our Parks,” a new campaign calling on Houstonians to protect parks during the drought. The campaign has two goals: fire prevention education and the protection of public parks. The first step in this campaign is the issuance of a temporary ban on all barbeque pits in city parks … The 5th Annual Lady Bird Johnson Tribute Wildflower Planting took place Saturday, Oct. 8 … On Saturday, Oct. 1, thousands of Houstonians gathered for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, at Sam Houston Park, 1000 Bagby, in downtown Houston … HPARD’s Fall Activities Guide and class catalog is online at www.houstontx.gov/parks/pdfs/2011/2011FallCatalog.pdf. Printed copies are also at community centers across the city. Check out the listings for recreation, fitness, and educational opportunities … HPARD’s permitting office moved to 1002 Washington Ave. For information on permitting park space or ball fields, contact the office at 832-394-8804 or 832-394-8805. ... The Memorial Park Conservancy in conjunction with Parks is working on a Planned Forestry Conservation & Management Program. For more information, visit the Memorial Park Conservancy website at www.memorialparkconservancy.org … The Freed Park Gym Building closed Sept. 1 until further notice for structural repairs. The adjacent activity building will remain open – Don Whitaker


Planning and Development
Planning held a “Community U!” conference Oct. 15 geared toward improving neighborhoods for residents and teaching them to become empowered to do so. The conference provided Houstonians with training, resources and solutions through a combination of workshops, presentations and networking opportunities. Workshop topics included how to lead community meetings, conflict resolution and how to develop community projects. – Suzy Hartgrove



A Public Works and Engineering employee works during the summer to repair a broken water line. Extreme drought conditions led to thousands of water lines breaking across Houston. More than 4,000 lines have been repaired by October.

Public Works and Engineering
Congrats to softball team members for defending their city championship title: Anthony Arredondo, Desmond Jones, Sam Miller, Rochelle Bennett, Sandra Deshotel, Gloria Chenault, Patricia Jennings, Michelle Cearcy, Derrick Neal, Tracy Samuel, Michael Esparza, Joe Perez, Earnel Hill, Michael Green, Craig Smith and Stephanie Hernandez … PWE’s small business development group invited small companies specializing in water line repair to help solve Houston’s historic drought and water line breakage issue. More than 30 contractors attended a meeting to learn how to bid on and get contracts to repair the lines … Piney Point Elementary School’s Nature Playscape was selected by Keep Houston Beautiful to receive the Mayor’s Proud Partner Award … PWE’s public utilities division received an $81,000 grant from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to help encourage organizations to reduce emissions from vehicles. There were 862 recipients of this grant around...the country. Among those who worked on the project were Fred Dace and Bob Jenkins from fleet management and Charles Harvey and Calvin Devenport from utility maintenance ... Department crews have repaired more than 4,000 broken water lines since June. – Alvin Wright


Housing and Community Development
The department kicked off National Homeownership Month in June with an event co-hosted by Houston Hope. The Houston Hope Showcase featured more than 35 affordable homes ready for buyers to move in. Prices ranged from $90,000 to $160,000. Qualified buyers received up to $30,000 in down payment assistance. Workshops were held at various locations around Houston … HCD exceeded its blood drive goals. Good job Moncenaca Berry, Krupa Desai and Monica Johnson … The department has created a new bowling team, the Rolling Stones. Members are Berry, Pauline Thomas and Olaolu Kasunmu. – Lester Whiteing


The department recently unveiled “Pachikadi and his Flying Friends,”civic artwork by artist Elaine Bradford at the Vinson Neighborhood Library. The artwork consists of a life-sized Asian elephant wearing a crocheted yarn sweater that goes up to the end of its trunk and onto nine live-sized Canadian geese suspended from the ceiling, giving the illusion that they actually seem to be having fun flying around the rotunda. The project was commissioned by the Houston Arts Alliance on behalf of the Houston Public Library and the Health and Human Services Department … On Saturday, Nov. 5 and Dec. 3, a free fall poetry series featuring short readings by students enrolled in Writers in the Schools and local poets will be at HPL Express Discovery Green Library. For more details, visit www.houstonlibrary.org or call 832-393-1313 … Enjoy free yoga, aerobics, and other exercise at your neighborhood library branch. Please consult a physician before participating. For more details, visit www.houstonlibrary.org … Central Library conducts a stress relief and relaxation series every Monday from noon until 1 p.m. A trained yoga instructor demonstrates relaxation techniques and teaches about the benefits of yoga. For more information, call 832-393-1313
Blanca Quezada

Library unveiled “Pachikadi and his Flying Friends,” civic artwork by Elaine Bradford. The piece, inside the rotunda at the Vinson Neighborhood Library, consists of a life-sized Asian elephant wearing a crocheted yarn sweater that goes up to the end of its trunk and onto nine life-sized Canadian geese suspended from the ceiling, giving the illusion they are flying around the rotunda. The project was commissioned by the Houston Arts Alliance on behalf of the Library and Health and Human Services departments.



Municipal Courts
Congrats: Judge Barbara Hartle celebrated her 1-year anniversary as presiding judge on May 1 … Michael DeWalt graduated from the University of Houston Downtown … Thanks to the information technology team for its hard work during the recent consolidation … Good job to Michelle Escobar, Joe Bucio, Antonio Rodriguez and Nilesh Chonkar for recent good works.
Shameka Barnaba-LaDay


Marcom Award Magnum Opus Award Winner Lone Star Award Winner Katie Award Winner Apex Award Winner