CAN I GET A RIDE OR CAN YOU RUN ME TO WALMART?
I’ve never quite understood the bus mentality in the deep South. A lot of people believe riding a bus is beneath them. If I had around the clock bus service in my neck of the woods I would hop on public transportation in a minute. On Monday I decided to sit down at a bus stop near OST and Almeda as my photographer was shooting an accident scene. While sitting there people gave me almost a snobbish like, I’m better than you type look. Have you ever had that before? In big cities everyone will hop on a bus or a train without a second thought. It seems to be almost a crime to ride the bus in the south. In my hometown of Baton Rouge no one rides the bus unless their car is broken. So, that leads me to the question of the day…If the Insite was car less would you give me a ride if you saw me at the bus stop?
How satisfied are you with city services? What services warrant the most emphasis from city leaders? What’s your overall perception of Houston? City Controller Annise Parker is giving you the opportunity to answer those questions and many more through a detailed city-wide citizen survey. “City government is accountable to the taxpayers,” said Controller Parker. “There is no better way to determine if we are meeting your expectations than to ask.”
Interviewers, including several who are bilingual, are placing calls to a random sample of approximately 35,500 Houstonians. The goal is to obtain 200 respondents in each of the city’s nine geographic city council districts, for a minimum of 1800 completed questionnaires. Residents also have the option of taking the survey online by visiting the controller’s Web site at www.houstoncontroller.org. The online version is available in both English and Spanish.
“There are questions about everything from the quality of police services to the city’s airports,” Parker said. “If you happen to be one of the residents in our random sample, I hope you’ll take the time to complete the survey. If you are not in our random sample, please take advantage of the opportunity to take the survey online. The information gathered will be important to the city’s ongoing effort to provide the most efficient and cost-effective services possible during a time of budget constraints caused by the economic downturn.”
The survey is modeled after a similar poll performed annually by the City of Kansas City for the last nine years. Jefferson Wells and Decision Information Resources, Inc. are under contract to perform the survey. Jefferson Wells is a worldwide professional services firm with a local presence. DIR is a minority-owned business and certified Historically Underutilized Business. Since 1984, the company has provided government, private, nonprofit, and philanthropic organizations the research, evaluation, and technical support that they require for making informed decisions, measuring the effectiveness of programs, and planning strategies. The company’s previous clients include the City of Houston, the State of Texas, several federal agencies and M-D Anderson Cancer Center.
DIR will conduct the survey using its Houston-based computer-assisted telephone interviewing center. The results are expected to be available mid-summer.
IS SAN FRANCISCO THE NEXT HOME FOR THE CHIEF?
It began with a story in the San Francisco Chronicle, that Houston’s police chief, Harold Hurtt, is on a list of “semifinalists” for police chief of San Francisco.
I’m working on a full story, but the take-away is that Hurtt has received some inquiries about taking jobs with other law enforcement agencies, but has not made any decision.
“I’ve told the mayor I’d stay until the end of his administration,” said Hurtt, 62. “However, I still have to look out for what’s best for myself and my family. I would love to stay in Houston but I think it’s inappropriate to raise any assumptions . . . with any potential candidate for mayor at this time.”
I couldn’t get a call back from White, but spokesman Frank Michel said turnover is expected in the mayor’s last year.
The director of the Houston Airport System, Richard Vacar, resigned abruptly Friday after serving in that position for 11 years. The reasons for that are still unclear. Terence Fontaine, the mayor’s deputy chief of staff, left in December to work for CenterPoint Energy.
Houston City Controller opened up her home to more than 500 people over the weekend. It was to celebrate Annise Parker’s birthday and a fundraiser for her bid for Mayor of Houston. Parker proudly turned 53 years old and it was also the theme of her party. Supporters were asked to give anywhere from $5.30 to $530 to show their supporter for the city official and her run for Mayor. Lots of people turned out for the event including Parker’s family members and friends. The Sunday afternoon party also made the Rockets – Lakers game available for those who had to support the home team. Some of the people attending: Council member Sue Lovell, Jerri Brooks, Maverick Welsh, Mary Benton (covering for her blog), Annise Parker and a long list of others. Here are some of the pictures captured at Parker’s Westmoreland home!
JACKSON LEE: IT’S BEING FAIR TO THE PERFORMERS!
In an interview to address the Swine Flu in Houston Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee quickly changed the subject on FOX 26 news Monday morning. She knew what was on the minds of lots of viewers in her congressional district. Is she selling out Black owned and minority radio stations?
THE INSITE TAKES YOU TO THE FLOOR OF THE TOYOTA CENTER!
The Insite was once again on the floor of the Toyota Center as thousands of Rockets fans electrified the arena. They were there to see their team claim game #6. That happened with the Rockets stomping the Los Angeles Lakers 95 to 80. Aaron Brooks and Luis Scola scored a combined 50 points despite a young man by the name of Kobe Bryant. That means it’s on to Los Angeles on Sunday. Meanwhile, before the game, I was very busy on the floor snapping photos of some famous faces. On that list: Yolanda Adams, Rusty Hardin, Boris Miles, Jermaine Dupri, Brandi Garcia, and many others. I think I must have snapped over 500 pictures but I can only post a fragment of that. Enjoy and I’ll see you for game #7 because I believe. What about you?
Former City of Hempstead Mayor Pro-Tem Larry Wilson and City Alderman Paris Kincade have both pleaded guilty to accepting bribes in exchange for their vote and support resulting in the awarding of city contracts, acting United States Attorney Tim Johnson announced today. Both men pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit federal programs fraud before the Honorable Judge Keith P. Ellison.
Wilson, 42, who entered a his guilty plea on Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2009, and Kincade, 53, who pleaded guilty today, admitted to soliciting and accepting bribe money or kickbacks from a local contractor in exchange for obtaining approved vendor status resulting in the awarding of city contracts.
Beginning in December 2006, Wilson who was the Mayor Pro-Tem and a City Alderman of the City of Hempstead, and Kincade, a City Alderman, conspired to use their official positions with the City of Hempstead to commit federal programs fraud. They corruptly solicited and accepted monies from a contractor, intending to be influenced and rewarded in connection with the eventual award of city contracts. Wilson accepted a $10,000 bribe and Kincade accepted a $3,000 bribe connected to demolition contracts valued at $19,650. Wilson and a cooperating witness discussed potential contracts worth more than $160,000. Both men accepted the bribes in return for their vote and assistance to approve vendor status of the cooperating witness in the City of Hempstead which led to four contracts for demolition. Wilson was captured on tape explaining how the cooperating witness could inflate city contracts stating “It take[s] you $10,000 to tear that down. You tell me it’ll take you 15.” Kincade was captured on tape telling the cooperating witness, “You know you got me and you know you got Wilson.”
The City of Hempstead is located approximately 50 miles west of Houston in Waller County.
A conviction for conspiring to violate federal programs fraud carries a penalty of imprisonment of not more than five years and/or a fine not to exceed $250,000. Both men remain on bond pending sentencing. Wilson will be sentenced May 14, 2009, at 10:30 a.m. and Kincade will be sentenced on May 20, 2009, at 10:30 a.m.
The charges are the result of an investigation conducted by special agents of the Houston FBI. Assistant United States Attorney Michael Wright prosecuted the case.