Monthly Archives: April 2008

YOU CAN SMOKE IN AN AIRPORT IN 2008?

SHOULD ALL AIRPORT SMOKING LOUNGES BE BANNED?


I was shocked to see an actual smoking lounge when I flew into the Baton Rouge airport this weekend. I thought those things went the way of the dinosaur a long time ago. But there it was with an air filter, an electronic wall mounted cigarette lighter, television and black ashtrays set up in the corner. I did a quick search on the Internet before this post and it appears to be a rarity. There are only a handful of American airports that still allowing smoking. Are you surprised it still goes on? Do you think a well ventilated smoking section should be allowed or should they all be closed in airports? The Insite would love to hear what you have to say about this!

TEACHERS ALWAYS GET A DISCOUNT!

90 CENTS VERSUS $1.25 – WHICH DEAL WOULD YOU PREFER?

Have you ever noticed how snack or vending machines in schools are cheaper than other places? I’ve seen the trend for quite some time now. From Coke to Pepsi machines, they’re all cheaper at schools. For example – at FOX 26 the 16 ounce bottled Cokes are $1.25. At Spring ISD their sodas are only 90 cents. You can’t get a 16 ounce for less than $1.00 even at the Dollar General. I wonder if soft drink companies offer school systems a better deal than private businesses. Who sets the price on sodas? Is it the vending machine company, the soda company or the business where it’s located? The Insite would love the answer to why teachers drinks are cheaper!

THE HILLAR MOORE FUNDRAISER IN BATON ROUGE!

AN AFTERNOON AT BLUE BAYOU!






The Insite was invited by friends to attend a big fundraiser in Baton Rouge for a candidate who’s running for East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney. That man is Hillar Moore. He went all the way out for this event to raise money for his campaign war chest. Moore rented out most of Blue Bayou Water Park. That made it an event not only for adults but the entire family. There was food, drink, rides and the legendary Percy (When A Man Loves A Woman) Sledge performed for the large crowd. I was invited by long time friends Keith and Kim Alexander. They’re pictured with Moore in the white shirt above. I also ran into Baton Rouge attorney and developer Danny McGlynn and his wife Gabby. Also attending was Althea Jackson and her family. Here are some of the pictures the Insite snapped while at Dixie Landing at Blue Bayou!

THE ANNUAL BOTTOM BASH IN SOUTH BATON ROUGE!

LIVE MUSIC, PEOPLE AND BOILING CRAWFISH IN THE FRONT YARD!






The annual ‘Bottom Bash’ was held last weekend in Baton Rouge. It was an event designed several years ago to bring unity to one of Baton Rouge’s oldest African American communities. As is typical in every city there is a place called the hood. In some cities they call it the bottom or the bottoms. In Baton Rouge it’s called the bottom. The event that boasted live music, entertainers and lots of crawfish boils in front yards was put on again this year. While in town the Insite made a stop by the big event. But this year it wasn’t so big. I thought it was the rain but one of the residents said some of the appeal has been lost with outbreaks of violence in past years. Some say it defeats the purpose of unity if people are allegedly fighting and shooting. However, I’ve been twice and have never encountered any violence. But that’s limited to the time I was there. Sunday it appeared to be a limited crowd moving up and down East Boulevard or Thomas Delpit Drive. At one point the number of police officers and deputies seemed to outnumber the people. Some of the faces I ran into at the event were: Rondrek Cowans (NFL Films photographer), Net and Felton, Ternell Lagarde, Ericka Jackson, Pat Harris, and several politicians including Mayor Kip Holden and Baton Rouge’s Police Chief. Here are some of the photos I snapped while moving through the crowd!

THE INSITE IS OUT OF TOWN – WILL BE BACK MONDAY!

EXPECT FEWER POSTS THIS WEEKEND!

The Insite is in Louisiana this weekend. That’s why there are fewer posts this weekend. Will be back in business on Monday!

THE VICTIM IS UNABLE TO IDENTIFY THE SUSECT!

WANTED FOR SEXUAL ASSAULT OF A 17 YEAR OLD!

A man, who is considered a potential suspect who drove the car where a 17-year-old South Houston High School student was sexually assaulted, is released by police after the victim is unable to identify him in a lineup.

Arnulfo Lopez was taken into custody by South Houston police in the aggravated kidnapping and sexual assault case of the student. Lopez is accused of being the driver depicted in a composite suspect sketch who wore a cap and had a missing tooth.

Because of time limits placed on how long police can hold a person in custody before charges are filed, the South Houston Police Department was forced to released Lopez.

Lopez is still considered a potential second suspect in the case. DNA testing is still pending on Lopez and to be examined on both him and Jose Rosales Lopez, who was arrested Friday at a South Houston trailer home community. The victim was able to positively identify Jose Lopez out of a lineup.

Anyone with information on the second suspect is asked to call the City of South Houston Police Department at 713-944-1910 or Houston Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.

IS ONE MAN GETTING PREFERENTIAL TREATMENT?

The Insite has received call after call from prominent Houstonians who have one simple question: What is the Harris County District Attorney’s Office thinking? This comes after former Houston Congressman Craig Washington was indicted for shooting his gun earlier this year at someone who allegedly tried to break into his office. The bullet hit a car. Now, those who wished to remain anonymous say the key point is Washington didn’t actually shoot anyone. They compare the local attorney’s situation to that of Harris County resident Joe Horn. You may remember he shot and killed two suspects who allegedly broke into his neighbor’s home. But so far and months later Horn’s case has yet to go before a Harris County grand jury. Some say this current situation smacks of racism. The Black man indicted in less than 4 months while the White man’s case seems to just linger on with no action. How do you feel about the comparison and is it a fair comparison. The Insite would love to hear your opinion about the indictment!

THE NEW CATHEDRAL VS. MT. CARMEL HIGH SCHOOL!

CAN YOU COMPARE THE TWO?

Despite assurances from administrators and the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston that their school would remain open, students at a southeast Houston Catholic high school will attend a different school next year.

The announcement that Mt. Carmel High School would close was made Friday afternoon during a school assembly.

School administrators called a meeting Thursday with teachers and staff letting them know that a job fair would be held to place them in other positions. Immediately following the meeting, information was leaked about the school possibly closing.

Dawne Baumann, an alumni of the school and parent of a current student, initiated an e-mail campaign Thursday encouraging current students and alumni to fight hard to keep the school open.

“They are blindsiding us without ever giving us a chance to try to come up with the funds needed or time to put up a fight. We would never have known about anything until tomorrow had the info not been leaked. I do not blame Mt. Carmel, by the looks of things they were blindsided as well,” Baumann wrote in the e-mail.

The school is run by the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. Some people who FOX 26 News talked with Friday said they think money that should have gone to the school went toward the building of the archdiocese’s new $40 million co-cathedral.

“We don’t have the answers. The Archdiocese is being very secretive. We have no idea what’s going on. The whole issue has just been, in my opinion, a web of deceit,” an assistant dean of students told FOX 26’s Isiah Carey Friday morning.

About 200 students attend the school, which opened in 1956.

Question: Some parents are asking why the Diocese spent $40 million plus on the new co-cathedral downtown and not a few million to keep Mt. Carmel open. Those parents also say they should’ve been given a chance to have fundraisers for their high school to save it. Do you agree or is this comparing apples to oranges?

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE FOX 26 NEWS TEAM!

THEY TOOK HOME THE BARBARA JORDAN MEDIA AWARD FOR DOCUMENTARY!

Congratulations go out to FOX 26 staffers Greg Groogan, Executive Producer Michael Baugh, and photographer Mark Muller. They were the winners of the very prestigious Barbara Jordan Award. The honor is given out annually to members of the news media who excel in their news coverage on issues involving human disabilities. The FOX team won in the category of best documentary for the special “Intrepid Center – Texas Lifeline.” The special program aired on KRIV – TV back in 2007 and has received award after award since its broadcast. Congratulations to Groogan who served as reporter, Baugh was producer and Muller was the man with the camera!

GARY COLEMAN DIVORCING: WHO KNEW HE WAS MARRIED!


The honeymoon is over for Gary Coleman and his new bride. The 40-year-old actor and his 22-year-old wife, Shannon Price, are set to appear on TV’s “Divorce Court” on May 1 and 2. The couple wed in August after meeting on the set of the 2006 comedy “Church Ball.” Among the problems the pair discusses with Judge Lynn Toler are Coleman’s anger and intimacy issues. Coleman and Price agree they have “ugly” monthly fights. “If he doesn’t get his way, he throws a temper tantrum like a five-year-old does,” Price says, according to a transcript of the show obtained by The Associated Press. “He like stomps the floor and yells, ‘Meehhhh,’ and starts throwing stuff around. He bashes his head in the wall, too.” Coleman says he gets frustrated because “the male is always the bad guy.” “When I try to state my case or explain things to her or try to get her to understand my point of view,” Coleman says, “my point of view doesn’t matter.” Price also complains that Coleman has no friends and inexplicably disappears from home in the middle of the night. When Toler presses him, Coleman admits he is negative. “I don’t have any friends and don’t have any intention of making any,” he says. “People will stab you in the back, mistreat you, talk about me behind your back, steal from you. And they’re not really your friends. (They’re) only there because you’re a celebrity or because they want to get something from you.” Coleman went on to describe the couple’s private life as “mediocre.” “It’s not her fault,” he says. “I always feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders every day I get up. … There are days I don’t even want to get up.”

JARVIS JOHNSON TACKLES TSU’S OPEN ADMISSIONS POLICY!

It's Time for Change at TSU!










By Council Member Jarvis Johnson






A little over 60 days on the job and Texas Southern University's (TSU) new
president is off to a great start of turning the university around. Dr. John
Rudley has made some bold moves such as changing personnel and restructuring
the university's organizational structure. But the most controversial move
is Dr. Rudley's proposed changes to TSU's long-standing open admissions
policy. I support Dr. Rudley 100 percent.

The questions we have to ask ourselves: Is it time for change at TSU? Will
TSU be able to continue to compete as an institution of higher learning in a
global marketplace? Is there a bigger problem with public education that has
adversely affected TSU? Why are so many inner city high school graduates
not prepared for college level work? Should TSU have to bear the brunt of
teaching students what they should have learned in High School? Apparently,
there is a disconnect between K-12 and post secondary education. Some
students are just not prepared for post secondary education, even after
graduating from high school.

These questions deserve some attention before we emotionally respond to Dr.
Rudley's proposed changes to TSU's open admissions policy.

Currently at Texas Southern University

1) It is RECOMMENDED, but not required that students take the SAT and ACT
tests.
2) Admission is also unconditional, regardless of their grade point
average as long as they pass all parts of the TAKS exam.
3) GED Certificate is accepted.

Proposed Changes

1) Students are REQUIRED to take the SAT and ACT tests.
2) Students must score a minimum of 820 out of 1600 on the SAT and
a minimum of 17 on the ACT.
3) Students must have a 2.00 grade point average or above (on a 4
point scale) and pass all parts of the TAKS exam.
4) Students with a GED Certificate or who do not meet the requirements will
be referred to a Community College where they will continue to receive
counseling and support from TSU so they can transfer back to TSU when they
complete their associate's degree or meet the transfer requirements.

The argument that TSU should remain an open enrollment university in order
to remain open to urban inner city youth is flawed reasoning. TSU's new
admissions policy does not mean it will close its doors to inner city youth;
it simply means-students should be prepared for college level work when they
arrive. If not, we have an excellent Houston Community College System to
help prepare them for college level work. Once prepared, the student can
transfer to a four-year college with a much more serious chance of
graduating.

There is a cause and effect relationship between first year college students
that need remedial courses to prepare for college level work and low
graduation rates. Statistics from the U.S. Department of Education show that
college freshmen in remedial-reading courses are about 40 percent less
likely to graduate than those who avoid such placement.
The data speaks for itself. On average TSU attracts about 1500 freshmen per
year and loses 60 percent of them after the first year. The graduation rate
is around 16 percent compared to a statewide rate of 54-55 percent. TSU must
continue to attract and retain the best talent to send to a global
marketplace.

Dr. Rudley has a daunting task before him. It cannot be business as usual at
TSU. The time for change is now. Let's help him help TSU.
We are at a pivotal point in our nation's history. We are living in what
Peter Drucker called a knowledge-based economy. Many of the global,
multi-national corporations that compete in the world markets are based
right here in Houston. Companies like Shell, KBR, Halliburton, and not to
mention our world-class Medical Center, should recruit from local
universities like Texas Southern University.

TSU has a rich tradition of producing the best and the brightest in
politics, business, pharmacy and law. Need I mention the late congressional
representatives Barbara Jordon and Mickey Leland, and global business
leaders like Dr. Kase Lawal, just to name a few. The quality of TSU's
graduates speaks to the excellent programming of the university and
scholastic aptitude of its professors. With more resources and new
admission requirements, TSU can do more than it's already done.
Our state needs an integrated approach to bring together educators and
students at all levels so that everyone has a seat at the table. K-16 and
P-16 initiatives were designed to do just that. K-16 and P-16 programs
establish a collaborative effort to start preparing students for college at
the kindergarten or pre-school level. It's a synergistic approach that
should be institutionalized and properly funded. For example, The University
System of Georgia's office for P-16 initiatives now employs 50 people and
has a budget of about $12.8 million, with about $3-million coming from the
state and $9.8-million from federal and private grants. We can no longer
take a piecemeal approach to education in Texas. The goal is to
substantially increase high school and college graduation rates by creating
an interconnected educational system. Texas, we can do better.
Back to my original question: Is it time for change at TSU? As an alumnus of
TSU, I say absolutely.
# # #
*Johnson is a Houston City Council Member, District B and graduate of Texas
Southern University.

COPS CLEARED IN NEW YORK SHOOTING!

THE VERDICT STIRRED UP THE CROWD!

Three detectives were acquitted of all charges today in the 50-shot killing of an unarmed groom-to-be on his wedding day, a case that put the NYPD at the center of another dispute involving allegations of excessive firepower.

Justice Arthur Cooperman delivered the verdict in a Queens courtroom packed with spectators, including victim Sean Bell’s fiancee and parents, and at least 200 people gathered outside the building.

The verdict provoked an outpouring of emotions: Bell’s fiancee immediately walked out of the room. His mother cried.

Outside the courthouse, which was surrounded by scores of police officers, many in the crowd began weeping as news of the verdict said. Others were enraged, swearing and screaming “Murderers! Murderers!” or “KKK!”

Bell, a 23-year-old black man, was killed in a hail of gunfire outside a seedy strip club in Queens on Nov. 25, 2006 — his wedding day — as he was leaving his bachelor party with two friends.

Officers Michael Oliver, 36, and Gescard Isnora, 29, stood trial for manslaughter while Officer Marc Cooper, 40, was charged only with reckless endangerment. Two other shooters weren’t charged. Oliver squeezed off 31 shots; Isnora fired 11 rounds; and Cooper shot four times.

The officers, complaining that pretrial publicity had unfairly painted them as cold-blooded killers, opted to have the judge decide the case rather than a jury.

The judge indicated that the police officers’ version of events was more credible than the victims’ version. “The people have not proved beyond a reasonable doubt that each defendant was not justified” in firing, he said.

A conviction on manslaughter could have brought up to 25 years in prison; the penalty for reckless endangerment, a misdemeanor, is a year behind bars.

The case brought back painful memories of other NYPD shootings, such as the 1999 shooting of Amadou Diallo — an African immigrant who was gunned down in a hail of 41 bullets by police officers who mistook his wallet for a gun. The acquittal of the officers in that case created a storm of protest, with hundreds arrested after taking to the streets in demonstration.