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CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE COMPARES ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS TO TRACKING DOGS!

DID THIS REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE FOR CONGRESS GO TOO FAR?

A Republican congressional candidate said Tuesday that comments he made suggesting illegal immigrants be microchipped so they could be more easily tracked were taken out of context.

Pat Bertroche, a Republican candidate in Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District, was speaking Monday during a forum in Toledo when he made the comment.

The Cedar Rapids Gazette reported Bertroche said, “I actually support micro-chipping them. I can microchip my dog so I can find it. Why can’t I microchip an illegal?

He added, “That’s not a popular thing to say, but it’s a lot cheaper than building a fence they can tunnel under.”

Bertroche did not deny making the comments when asked about them Tuesday by The Associated Press. But he said he never meant to suggest he advocates illegal immigrants be microchipped like dogs, which can have chips placed beneath their skin.

“I don’t support microchipping anybody and it also didn’t occur to me I was comparing dogs to illegal immigrants,” he said by phone.

Instead, Bertroche, a physician, said he was trying to “illustrate a social commentary on how radical” the immigration issue has become.

Bertroche is one of seven candidates seeking the Republican nomination to challenge Democratic incumbent Leonard Boswell.

He compared microchipping illegal immigrants to what he said are other radical ideas.

“Of all the major ideas that are out there, there are those that are extremely radical,” he said. “Building a fence is radical and it won’t work. Shooting them at the border is radical.”

Bertroche said he would instead support issuing of “blue cards” to illegal immigrants that would contain the same microchip technology found in U.S. passports. These cards would allow bearers to remain in the country but would prevent them from being granted citizenship or receiving government services.

According to his campaign website, the cards could be easily scanned and would document a person’s date of birth, nationality and fingerprints.

Bertroche said issuing such cards would be cheaper than building a border fence.

“Why not create something that is more cost effective?” he said.

THE CITY OF HOUSTON GETS $1.3 MILLION DOLLAR GRANT!

WE’RE GETTING NEW SOLAR POWERED MOBILE GENERATORS!

The City of Houston has received a $1.3 million State Energy Conservations Office (SECO) Distributed Renewable Energy Grant. The city plans to use the grant funding to purchase approximately 25 commercially available distributed renewable energy (solar) mobile generator systems to provide backup energy during an emergency. The generators will demonstrate the financial and environmental benefits of using solar power as an energy source.

“The City of Houston is committed to achieving a sustainable solar-powered infrastructure,” said Mayor Parker. “Hurricane Ike’s two-week power outage sent a clear message about the need for alternative technologies to help us get through a similar situation in the future. These generators are scheduled to be operational by the 2011 hurricane season.”

With power generated by these systems, wheelchair batteries can be recharged, oxygen concentration pumps can be charged and medicine can be refrigerated. The generators could also be used to power emergency communications systems, gas pumps for emergency vehicles, small scale water treatment, and other critical services traditionally powered by a diesel or gasoline generator.

The mobile solar generators will be placed in emergency staging areas to power critical city facilities and provide assistance to the public in the event of an emergency. A study will be conducted to determine the best locations for the units.

When not used to provide emergency energy services, the generators will be used as supplemental energy sources at city fire stations.

The Solar Houston Initiative, part of the City’s Solar America Cities Project, leverages the expertise of diverse and experienced project partners, such as the Solar Houston Taskforce, to achieve a sustainable solar infrastructure in the city. The Solar Houston Initiative is focused on identifying and overcoming barriers associated with establishing a solar infrastructure that is incorporated into the overall energy system of the City of Houston.

THE INSITE MAKES THE CITY OF HOUSTON DISTRICT E NEWSLETTER!

THE BUSINESS OF INSURANCE PREMIUMS!

Here’s the brief article that appeared in Houston City Councilman Mike Sullivan’s newsletter and website this week. It’s rare the Insite makes council members’ newsletters. Take a read:

On March 25, 2010, Council Member Mike Sullivan met with Isiah Carey of ‘Insite’ and Fox 26 News to discuss the Mayor’s decision to increase health insurance premiums for City of Houston retirees. Council Member Mike Sullivan, who opposes the increase, spoke with Isiah Carey on the affect it will have on retired City employees under the age of 65.

THIS MONTGOMERY COUNTY JUDGE AIN’T PLAYING!

Pct. 4 Justice of the Peace James Metts is continuing his commitment to education in East Montgomery County using a variety of proven measures to combat truancy, ranging from an electronic monitoring program, to a trip to jail.

On Friday, Judge Metts had nine students arrested for contempt of court. Four students who were under the age of 17 went to the Montgomery County Juvenile Detention Center, but five others were transported to the Montgomery County Jail. Judge Metts said the measure was a last resort, and in many cases, the court’s last opportunity to guide students toward the right path.

“People of all ages have to understand actions have consequences and these students were given every opportunity to avoid learning this lesson the hard way,” Judge Metts said.

David Carson Mcelroy, 17 ; Ismael Anzaldua, 17; Andrew Douglas Pelczar, 17; Emily Anne Vanness, 17; and 17-year-old Daniel Salazar received an all expenses paid stay at Sheriff Tommy Gage’s Bed and Breakfast in Conroe, with transportation provided by the office of Pct. 4 Constable Kenneth “Rowdy” Hayden. The Constable personally escorted some of the teens.

Not all of the nine students were found in contempt of court for truancy. In one case of a habitually truant female student, the judge ordered her mother to attend school with her daughter. Both were in tears when Judge Metts gave the order, but they were free to leave. Unfortunately, the juvenile became belligerent, slamming the door of the courtroom as she left and was found in contempt and taken into custody.

Another teen’s behavior landed her behind bars when an officer saw her strike her mother after their case was heard and they walked out of the courtroom.

But it was not only teens that went to jail. The judge also ordered one parent arrested. Beverly Powell, 46, of New Caney was charged with contempt of court after repeatedly ignoring Judge Metts’ orders regarding her child’s truancy.

Conversely, another mother asked the judge for help. She was making sure her daughter attended school, but the girl tested positive for drugs. The judge asked the girl where she thought drugs would get her and told her if she continued on that path, she would not live to be very old.

The attendance issue was resolved and the mother was released from a court order to attend school with one of her daughters, but she requested further assistance from the court with her out of control 13 and 14-year- old daughters. The woman explained that she and her husband were recovering drug addicts and were hoping the county could recommend a program to prevent their children from suffering the same fate. Juvenile probation officers told Judge Metts they would assist the mother with a referral to the county’s Special Programs Unit.

The mom was released from attending school with her daughter and Judge Metts told the woman she had “earned his respect.”

Some of the students who were not repeat offenders were ordered to participate in the Attendance Improvement Management, or AIM program, which involves electronic monitoring and promotes responsible behavior. Since Judge Metts introduced the program to Montgomery County during the 2008-2009 school year, its success rate has been over 90 percent.

Other students were placed in the Montgomery County Juvenile Truancy Program.

Judge Metts is extremely proud of the success of all of the programs and initiatives his court has implemented in addressing the truancy issue, which is evident by the one-third drop in “fail to attend” filings in Precinct 4. His commitment to reducing truancy has drawn far more praise than criticism, including awards from Splendora and New Caney Independent School Districts.

“I want the children of Precinct 4 to attend school, so they have every opportunity to succeed in life,” Judge Metts said. “If they choose to do otherwise, there will be consequences.”

COUNTY APPRAISAL DISTRICT EMPLOYEE’S RESIGNATION LETTER!

WHAT’S HAPPENING AT THE AGENCY SO MANY RELY ON IN HARRIS COUNTY?

A former Harris County Appraisal District employee recently resigned from the agency. He wrote this letter to his bosses and wanted to share it here on the Insite. These allegations have not been verified and the Insite will attempt to get a response from the agency:

To the Human Resources Division of The Harris County Appraisal District,

It is with grave sadness that I announce my resignation from the Harris County Appraisal District. If allowed, my final day will be Monday April 19, 2010. This will allow me enough time to finish out my pending assignments and possibly assist in any areas my departure may leave a void. Ironically I completed my third year at HCAD earlier this month on the seventh, and upon my departure I have some strong feelings I wish to share to whomever might be concerned. My journey with the Personal Property division has been a memorable one. Although there were a few bumps in the road, overall I learned a great deal and appreciated the opportunity to work with such a diverse group. If there were any situations I have not been totally at peace with however, it would be the mentality of the management, specifically in the BIPD section. Sadly this mentality seemed to worsen year to year and at some point last year appeared almost spiteful. It may be related or coincidental, but things appeared to happen in line with Robert Brown’s sudden removal as floor manager. Regardless of the origination of this mentality, generally people grow tired of fear tactics and weary of the institutionalized environment this department seems to live by. I understand bureaucracy and its root, but I also believe that civil liberties are a God given right. Thus, I believe that you can enslave people within a free society. I have expressed my concerns on behalf of the mentality of the average worker in an effort to create an understanding between management and staff on a few occasions. The feedback from management always seems to be an if you don’t like it you can leave mentality; as a solutions oriented individual I have always felt this mentality bad for moral and counter productive. I am one individual however, and can only influence so much alone. The fear seems to be the message that a majority of the employees grasp as in private the mood is miserable, and conversations central theme is a disregard and general hate for management. Another common theme is the thought that employees have to take these assaults on character for their families, due to the economy, or because they are just afraid to speak up to avoid embarrassment. These three reasons that keep the majority from rebelling against an oppressive mentality are the key reasons I feel my time has come to a close. I personally feel I dishonor my family by seeing wrong and turning my head and do nothing. I would rather die homeless and broke than live without integrity and never standing for basic civil liberty. I am more embarrassed sitting in silence while people are being treated unfairly as if it is okay. I saw a future with HCAD when I began, prompting me to learn quickly and become a very efficient appraiser willing to go way above and beyond my duties as an Appraiser 1. I often volunteered to train and bring other appraisers up to a level that makes them better as well. I spent extra time with senior appraisers learning from them in exchange for helping them become acclimated to the fast rising technology. In return I have to sit through emails (to all BIPD no doubt) with underline threats of termination based on parking passes, and unexcused absences because they weren’t planned a week out…as if life doesn’t throw last minute emergencies at you. I have to have sicknesses questioned and spend money on a doctor as a technicality, when sometimes you just need to rest a day or two. I have to find a baby sitter on Saturdays during the summer when I have my daughter because daycare isn’t available on weekends. If I can’t secure a baby sitter I have to take the risk of leaving my 9 year old at home alone because of threatening emails saying failure to attend mandatory overtime is subject to termination. To make matters worse, on at least two occasions I felt threatened and unsure enough to leave my daughter alone while praying nothing goes wrong and calling her every twenty minutes to check on her. To be put in this uncompromising position in itself is unjust and no employee should have to feel this type of pressure to obtain employment.

Tyrant-Absolute power, especially when exercised unjustly or cruelly.

The thought of tyranny in as small a context as one floor in a building of 600 plus employees appears melodramatic and otherwise ludicrous. Traditionally oppression is only acknowledged when discussing mass oppression such as the Hebrews in biblical times, or the Jewish during holocaust, and most notably; the African Slaves of the 1700’s and 1800’s right here in our very own country. Of course, to compare something as small as bullying tactics from a few individuals of management to any of those events is blasphemous. However, in the words of the great Dr King “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Much of the treatment that occurs in the Personal Property division, although mental, is injustice indeed. To make matters worse, there is a floor wide understanding that the very structure in place to protect our very human rights to work in a reasonable environment (human resources) shows an inability to explore any issues of the people. Too often confidential information is leaked. Too often a complaint turns into direct harassment from those you are complaining about, creating fear of speaking out at all. Suddenly the group mentality becomes, if you feel abused you have to internalize it, toughen up because you just have to hold on to your job unless God sends you a miracle. Sadly, the thought crosses my mind that maybe we are a smaller version of a bigger issue. Just maybe the staff of human resources is afraid because they too face certain pressures and intimidations making them afraid to go against the grain of the system. Truthfully, that is mere speculation from my part because I just don’t know. I do know from conversations with employees who have moved on who have had issues as well as many who remain yet silently suppress their issues, that human resources know about the aura of the fourth floor. The understanding is that they continually turn their head and ignore rather than get involved in efforts for a positive solution. Unfortunately I was involved in a regrettable altercation in December where I lashed out at another employee (Mary Jo Kieshnick) that has brought more attention to the vulgar comment I made in self-defense mode than the issue of neglect and safety issues that caused the altercation in the first place. This hurts me and tells me my time is up at this institution because I pride myself on chivalry and humanity, not conflict. I am a man of God, henceforth, I am a man of character, so regardless of my opinion that she doesn’t carry herself as a lady…she is a lady and doesn’t deserve to be treated otherwise under any circumstance, despite its severity. To Mary Jo, I apologize for the rude comment itself. However, I stand by my convictions causing the argument and am still insulted by the twisting of facts by management and human resources. I am insulted by the insinuation that somehow the problem was unhappiness with the weather, or some unwillingness to work the pipe yard project, which I have worked for three seasons now without hesitation or complaint. The fact is no one can control weather, but we can control the decisions made regarding people’s safety and proper working conditions. On several occasions I tried to alert management of a personality conflict as well as certain neglectful procedures that I knew they weren’t aware of during the project in which the altercation happened. Sadly, I saw the possibility of a conflict and still was caught in an uncompromising position; all because of this horrible mentality of do what we say or else. All because of this classist mentality of having a lower title makes you inferior and somehow inept at thinking. Now I will be remembered more for a senseless argument that got out of control, than an appraiser who worked as a team player willing to take responsibilities and duties generally held by analyst or appraiser 2’s and 3’s for the good of the team and the bigger goal. A good friend once told me that the worse thing a person can do is allow a single action make a genuine smile go in vain. As a man of conviction, I now ponder that statement as it pertains to my time here.

I will conclude my resignation by expressing that my time at HCAD has not been negative in the bigger picture. In fact, several elements of the job have been enjoyable including the customer service aspect as a liaison between HCAD and the public. The ability to learn property tax law and how it is applicable in society has been a pleasure to learn from those who have dedicated their lives to it. I have certainly enjoyed working with and getting to know a number of employees I have seen on a daily basis. I also appreciate those members of management and staff who took out time to teach me how to be a better appraiser. I appreciate people like Debra Montgomery who saw great potential in me from my first day on the job. I appreciate the professionalism and mentoring from men in strong positions like Harry Higgins and Robert Brown who are not afraid to tell me when I am wrong and will quickly and bluntly let me know yet applaud the good things I have done right, as well as attempt to paint the bigger picture of the job from an experienced perspective. I appreciate mentors like Juan Silva who seem to get criticized for being a mentor…as if it is a bad thing. Mr. Silva pushes just as hard as any supervisor on the floor while encouraging you to take more leadership roles. He pushes for quality production and lets you know he demands the best out of you while ironically appears to get chastised for not writing employees up on a more frequent basis to send a message of superiority. If more attitudes reflected some of these people and the professionalism they display and less of a prison institutional attitude the moral of its workers would improve. Instead the integrity of working level professionals, many of whom are college educated, is managed under the umbrella of fear, and this is accepted as status quo. If anyone is offended by this addition to my resignation I apologize. It is in no way meant to burn bridges. In fact, under different management mentality I would enjoy working in this environment and choose a future in its possibilities. However, for fear of health complications, as well as the risk of taking things too personal that are obviously business as usual, I have chosen to part ways with the district. If you are reading this, it means either you are somewhat affiliated with the division or are in some sort of role in the building I feel is respected, and should be informed from an outside point of view of the mind state of the employees. And hopefully the staff that you manage doesn’t feel the same oppression and/or fear that I have seen in a 3-year period, particularly the last couple of years. Regardless, of your status or relationship to the situation, it is important to be informed from those affected under the HCAD umbrella. You may choose to ignore it, or you may desire to look closer and understand the plight of not only myself, but a mass majority of employees afraid to speak out for fear of losing their livelihood. Either way I maintain a great respect for my peers who are able to take this bullying and somehow manage to wake up everyday and give some semblance of effort. I encourage you to stand strong and earn a living as best you can while also warning you that a person who lives in fear without integrity is a person who isn’t fit to live. We are able to work in a society and have the liberties we have today because someone decided to revolt against tyranny. At points in history groups of people banded together and put aside their fear for simple humanity. The very foundation of the country we live in is democracy, therefore built on the demand for justice and equality regardless of how big or small the situation may seem.

“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.” Martin Luther King Jr.

Ronald Lindsey

Appraiser 1

Business and Industrial Property Division

MICHAEL P. WILLIAMS GIVEN THE BIG HONOR!

THE KEYNOTE ADDRESS FOR THE 2010 GRADUATION!

Houston Community College has chosen Dr. Michael P. Williams to give the keynote address during its 2010 graduation ceremony. Dr. Williams is the HCC Board of Trustees Chairman and trustee for District IV.

Dr. Williams’ message will ask the HCC students who have earned their associate’s degrees, career or technology certificates or their GEDs to look to the future. The graduates will walk across the stage in celebration of their achievement Saturday, May 15 at 10:00 a.m. in Reliant Stadium.

Williams is the Founding Pastor of Joy Tabernacle in Houston, which in 1999 became the first African American church to relocate to the heart of Houston’s inner city. He has also served as Senior Pastor for Antioch Missionary Baptist Church in Houston and East End Baptist Tabernacle Church in Bridgeport, Connecticut. He has preached in 37 of the 50 states, three continents and in the Middle East and founded HOPE for Houston, Inc., a non-profit agency committed to serving at-risk young people and their families.

In 1999, Williams was elected to the Board of Trustees for the Houston Community College system, the largest educational institution in the Gulf Coast region. He has served the institution’s board in numerous capacities, including board chair on two occasions, including the 2010 calendar year.

His honors include induction into the Martin Luther King, Jr., Board of Preachers, Board of Sponsors and Collegium of Scholars at Morehouse College and The “Big 15”—Houston’s Top African American Pastors, the Keeping the Dream Alive Award from the Martin Luther King, Jr., Parade Foundation, Who’s Who in Black Houston and Who’s Who Among Black Americans. Williams is the author of numerous articles and three books.

In April Dr. Michael P. Williams received the coveted 2010 Westminster Lifetime Alumni Achievement Award at a special Alumni Honors Convocation Ceremony at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. The presentation of the award marks the first time the award has ever been bestowed upon an African American.

“Michael Williams exemplifies what is good and right in our society. He has demonstrated through perseverance, great intellectual gifts and piercing vision that people can overcome stereotypes and fundamentally lead change in people and community,” said Barney Forsythe Ph.D., President Westminster College. “His actions have distinguished not only him as a leader and a man of great integrity, but this educational institution. Our graduates are our credentials, and we are very honored to number Dr. Williams among our most illustrious alums.”

CHILDREN GETTING A HELPING HAND FROM COMP-U-DOPT!

AMBER IS THE 500TH STUDENT!

Houston fourth grader Amber McCray, whose home was lost in a fire caused by Hurricane Ike in 2008, added another chapter to her family’s recovery story this week when she became the 500th child to receive a computer from Comp-U-Dopt, Inc.

On a day she and 56 other local children took home donated computers, Amber said, “I am so thankful to have this computer. I have been going to the library or asking friends to work on their computers. Now, I can work on writing and math on my own computer at home.”

Amber’s mother Linda added, “We lost almost everything in the fire. We are blessed to be in another home, but Amber has been asking about a computer for as long as I can remember. She loves school and she loves learning, and I want her to have the opportunities that come with education. For kids now, computers are an important part of learning.”

Comp-U-Dopt founder John Osha said, “Comp-U-Dopt achieved an important milestone this week with the support of our corporate and individual donors, but we are just beginning to make a difference in the Houston area with children like Amber. Hundreds of children are on our waiting list. Donations of computers, financial support, and time can make an immediate difference in a child’s life.”

Donated computers are awarded to enthusiastic, motivated children who submit applications to Comp-U-Dopt explaining how a computer will benefit their education. Each refurbished computer comes with Linux-based educational tools as well as word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, and Internet capabilities. Children chosen to receive computers attend a two-hour adoption session with parents or guardians to learn software use and computer care.

Founded in 2007, Comp-U-Dopt encourages the development of increasingly necessary technology skills in children and helps foster computer reuse and better stewardship of the environment. Executive Director Veronica Harford added that a computer donation to Comp-U-Dopt is a safe, reliable way to dispose of working computers and monitors that may have been updated or are not in use. “Far too many serviceable computers collect in offices and homes, are stockpiled in warehouses, or end up in landfills,” she said.

Houstonians can help Comp-U-Dopt in three ways. Harford said, “First, your donations of working PCs and laptops are critical. Second, your tax-deductible donations cover the costs of refurbishing and distributing the computers and the related educational support. And, third, we rely on volunteers. Some of our volunteers are technologically knowledgeable, but many others are not. It’s not a requirement to serve.”

Osha said, “Please keep Comp-U-Dopt in mind when you or your Houston-area company upgrade computers and need a new home for the old ones. Anyone who contributes to this organization can take pride in knowing that he or she is helping children throughout the city by investing in their curiosity and interest in learning.”

Donors also can rest assured that the hard drives of donated computers to Comp-U-Dopt are erased to U.S. Department of Defense standards. “Our computer donors, whether they are large corporations or families, know they can count on us to carry out the hard drive “wipe process, Harford said.

More information is available online at www.compudopt.org.