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On Tuesday, December 3, 2014, Judge John Grady of County Court at Law #1 found Audon Martinez guilty of Possession of an Illegal Fishing Device and sentenced him to 70 days in the Galveston County Jail.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Wardens Bobby Kana and Ray Canales reported that on November 13, 2014, Martinez and co-defendant Richard Mancuso were seen removing fish from illegal gill nets and loading the fish into a truck. Wardens reported that they subsequently stopped the truck and found 121 fish inside. Both men were charged with Possession of an Illegal Fishing Device. The Wardens reported that another 127 fish were found in the gill nets when they were removed the following day. The number of fish recovered far exceeded the amount permitted under the law.
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Approximately two weeks after the incident, Martinez pled to the charged offense and was sentenced to 70 days in the Galveston County Jail. Mancuso’s case is still pending.

The District Attorney’s office will continue to aggressively prosecute cases of this nature. Assistant District Attorney Jason Howell stated, “Illegal fishing is a far-reaching crime that impacts our area from both conservation and economic standpoints because fewer fish also means fewer fishermen visiting the coast. The limit for flounder during this time of year is down to two fish. The Galveston County District Attorney’s Office is serious about stopping illegal fishing and we will continue working closely with Texas Parks and Wildlife to protect our natural resources for future generations.”

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Houston Police officer Sheldon Theragood, who’s also the founder of Theragood Deeds, conducted a toy drive for the less fortuate families in the community over the weekend. The event was called Christmas for Kids. There were more than a dozen youth who volunteered their time to give back to the community. They wrapped over 50 gifts for 20 plus families Theragood Dees is sponsoring this year. The officer and the young people will also be drive to all the families and pass out the gifts at their front door. Officer Theragood will serve as Santa Claus and the kids will be elves. This event will take place December 20th just before Christmas.

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A LOCAL FIRM THAT CHALLENGES PROPERTY TAXES IN FORT BEND COUNTY IS BLAMING THE COUNTY FOR LATE PROPERTY TAXES. O’CONNOR AND ASSOCIATES HAS SENT OUT LETTERS TO TAX PAYERS SAYING THE FORT BEND COUNTY APPRAISAL DISTRICT COULD BE AS LATE AS MAY OR SEPTEMBER GETTING ACCURATE TAX BILLS TO PROPERTY OWNERS IN THE COMMUNITY. THE AGENCY SAYS THIS DELAY MAINLY AFFECTS THOSE WHO HAVE CHALLENGED THE PREVIOUS YEAR’S PROPERTY TAXES. I PUT IN A CALL TO THE APPRAISAL DISTRICT AND A REP SAYS THEY WILL GET ME ANSWERS FROM THE CHIEF APPRAISER WHEN HE RETURNS NEXT WEEK. BUT THE OFFICE DID CONFIRM HUNDREDS POSSIBLY THOUSANDS OF PROPERTY OWNERS COULD BE AFFECTED BY THIS DELAY.
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HERE’S THE EMAIL FROM THE FIRM –

Dear :

Property Tax Statement Alert

It saddens me to report that we believe the Fort Bend Central Appraisal District (FBCAD) may not complete your property tax appeal until perhaps April to August 2015. This means you may not receive your 2014 property tax bill(s) until as late as May to September 2015.

Background

We approached FBCAD in early 2014 to discuss starting hearings as early as March or April 2014. FBCAD declined to work with us on early hearings. They attempted a limited number of informal hearings in May 2014. However, they seemed unreasonable in attempting to resolve tax appeals. Their position was we should take their value with little or no discussion. Real estate valuation is a combination of art and science; there is no right answer. Reasonable people can disagree but still find room for compromise. Our belief is that FBCAD had no intention to work in good faith to informally settle tax protests in 2014; other consultants have reported the same.

Current Status

FBCAD has still not provided an appropriate means to handle hearings. We are currently doing hearings at the pace of 1,100 to 1,700 per month. Based on having more than 6,500 remaining hearings, FBCAD hearings will not be completed until the end of April to August of 2015. This does not allow for any breaks for the Christmas or New Year’s Day holidays.

Tax Bills Will be Late

Your tax bill for 2014 will not be sent until about 30 days after the hearing. This means that tax bills may not be completed until the end of May to September 2015 (not accounting for the holiday breaks).

Please Contact Your Elected Officials

Fort Bend is required to substantially complete hearings by July 25. We offered to start hearings in March or April 2014, but were not able to start in volume until August. The FBCAD management owes its clients, Fort Bend property owners, to complete hearings timely and honestly. The timing is already way behind, with over 6,500 hearings left to complete. We also believe FBCAD is presenting misleading and dishonest information at the hearings. You deserve better from FBCAD.

Please call or email the elected officials listed below and ask them to encourage FBCAD to: work informally to quickly resolve the balance of the hearings, and to stop presenting misleading information at hearings.

Patrick O’Connor

O’Connor & Associates

President

PS: A separate letter will provide information on how to make an estimated prepayment of 2014 property taxes prior to the end of 2014.

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Big-hearted Houstonians flocked to St. Nicola at West Ave. at the request of Tena Lundquist Faust and Tama Lundquist for an evening of shopping benefitting Crime Stoppers of Houston on December 5, 2014. The philanthropic duo have been working with Crime Stoppers throughout the year fighting against animal cruelty in conjunction with their non-profit, Houston PetSet. The partnership has accomplished incredible feats this year including Houston’s first Animal Cruelty Fugitive Sweep resulting in the arrest of 16 fugitives wanted for crimes against animals and clearing 49 warrants.

More than a hundred shoppers couldn’t keep their hands off St. Nicola’s luxurious leather clutches, totes, and handbags.  Sophisticated derby shoes and boots were plucked off the shelves by fashion forward men. The party grew so quickly it spilled out into the shopping center on this cool and cozy Houston eve. St. Nicola owner, Dany Daniel, was on-hand to guide customers to the perfect gifts and purchases, as well as be the life of the party. The fabulous night was topped off with food and beverage which kept people oooh-ing and aah-ing over their next coveted purchase. Selective shoppers included Kim Padgett, Tara Brivic, Matt Burrus, Michael Pearce, Judge Alix Smoots-Hogan and Rania Mankarious.

Crime Stoppers would like to thank Dany Daniel with St. Nicola for his hospitality and generosity as well as Tena Lundquist Faust and Tama Lundquist for their continued commitment to keeping Houston safe.

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Fund set up by Constable Herschel Smith:

Shelita Rowe Fund
TDECU Credit Union
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Waller County Precinct 3 Constable Herschel Smith needs your help.

Tonight (Monday) he stumbled upon a single mother with six children sleeping in a van in the parking lot of a Motel 6 at 2900 W. Sam Houston Parkway.

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The woman tells me by phone she left Houston a year ago to try and find a job in Florida to support her kids.

She says when that did not work out she returned this week.

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By that time the struggling parent says she was out of money.

She also reached out to three major shelters in Houston.

She says she was told there was no room because the facilities are at capacity for the holidays.

She says one shelter also told her she had too many children.

I asked if she had family in Houston to crash with and she said no since she’s been on her own for such a long time.

If you have any type of solution to this issue contact Waller County Precinct 3 Constable Herschel Smith right now at 832-889-8529… as soon as possible!

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It’s been two months since the Harris County District Attorney introduced a new program that wouldn’t leave first time pot smokers with a criminal record.

Jeff McShan with the DA’s office says 184 people have qualified for the program that would allow those who are first time marijuana offenders to enter an intervention program to get the charge dismissed.

This is for those who have a small amount of weed (up to 2 ounces) for personal use only.

DA Devon Anderson’s program got underway in October. 

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Texas State Representative Joe Moody (D–El Paso) introduced a bill Monday that would reduce state penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Representative Moody announced the details of the bill at a news conference hosted by Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy. He was joined by retired Texas District Court Judge John Delaney and representatives from the coalition including ACLU of Texas, Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition, and the Marijuana Policy Project.

“Our current marijuana policy in Texas just isn’t working,” Rep. Moody said. “We need a new approach that allows us to more effectively utilize our limited criminal justice resources. This legislation is a much-needed step in the right direction.”

The proposed law would remove the threat of arrest, jail time, and a criminal record for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and replace them with a civil fine of $100. Under current Texas law, individuals found in possession of less than two ounces of marijuana can be arrested and given a criminal record, and they face up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $2,000.

“The War on Marijuana is a failure and has needlessly ensnared hundreds of thousands of people in the criminal justice system, at tremendous human and financial cost,” says Matthew Simpson, policy strategist for the ACLU of Texas. “It’s time to implement reforms that are fairer, more compassionate, and smarter at reducing drug dependency and improving our health and safety.”

According to the FBI, there were 72,150 arrests or citations for marijuana-related offenses in Texas in 2012, 97% of which were for simple possession. That same year, nearly 90% of all burglaries — including home invasions — and 88% of all motor vehicle thefts went unsolved.

“Giving a ticket for small amounts of marijuana makes sense,” Judge Delaney said. “The fine can be paid by mail, so police, prosecutors, and our courts will be able to use their limited resources for more important matters.”

More than 60% of Texas voters support limiting the punishment for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana to a fine of $100 with no possibility of jail time, according to September 2013 poll conducted by Public Policy Polling.

“There is broad support for reducing marijuana possession penalties, and it spans the political spectrum,” said Ann Lee, executive director of Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition. “The prohibition of marijuana is diametrically opposed to the Republican principles of limited government, individual responsibility, and personal freedom. There is nothing conservative about it.”

Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have removed the threat of jail time for possession of small amounts of marijuana.

“Most Americans are fed up with laws that saddle people with criminal records just for possessing a substance that is less harmful than alcohol,” said Heather Fazio, Texas political director for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Texas simply cannot afford to continue arresting and jailing people for marijuana possession.”

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The Devil is always busy especially around the holidays.

A Fox 26 news crew out covering a protest in Freedman’s Town Monday afternoon learned that the hard way.

When the reporter and photographer returned to the news unit parked on Wilson Street they discovered their windows knocked out and potentially thousands of dollars in equipment – gone.

The crew was advised by HPD to drive to the nearest substation to report the incident because the response time would not be priority.

Luckily no one was hurt.

This is a clear reminder even if you lock up your vehicle the bad guy if determined will still get what he wants.