- Galveston, TX Weather :: 87F A Few Clouds September 24, 201787F A Few Clouds
- Galveston, TX Weather :: 87F A Few Clouds September 24, 2017
- These are the NFL players protesting Sunday amid Trump criticism September 24, 2017NFL players continued a league-wide protest late Sunday afternoon by locking arms, taking to their knees or declining to come out onto the field as the US national anthem played before their games. The athletes are reacting to recent comments made by President Donald Trump about players who refuse to stand for the anthem in […]
- Texans fall to Patriots 36-33 September 24, 2017Tom Brady connected with Brandin Cooks for a 25-yard touchdown pass with 23 seconds left, his fifth TD throw of the game, and the New England Patriots rallied to beat the Houston Texans 36-33 on Sunday.PHOTOS: Texans take on Patriots in Week 3Brady finished 25 of 35 for 378 yards as New England won its […]
- Texans release statement responding to President Trump's comments on NFL protests September 24, 2017The Houston Texans released a statement Sunday, calling President Trump's recent comments against NFL players' national anthem protests "divisive and counterproductive."The statement read: "The NFL specifically, and football in general, has always unified our communities and families. The comments made by the President were divisive and counterproductive to what our country needs right now. I […]
- Dynamo, NYCFC battle to 1-1 draw September 24, 2017New York's Maximiliano Moralez and Houston's Mauro Manotas scored early goals and the Dynamo and NYCFC battled to a 1-1 draw on Saturday.The game was moved to Pratt & Whitney Stadium because of a scheduling conflict at Yankee Stadium.Moralez picked up his fifth goal in the sixth minute when he flicked a header inside the […]
- NFL chief, NBA stars slam Trump September 23, 2017President Donald Trump came under harsh criticism Saturday from the NFL and some of the NBA's top players after he blasted prominent athletes for kneeling during the national anthem and refusing to come to the White House, putting himself in the center of a controversy with significant racial and cultural undertones.NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell slammed […]
- Texas A&M beats Arkansas in overtime again September 23, 2017Armani Watts intercepted a pass in overtime and Texas A&M extended its win streak to six games against Arkansas with a 50-43 victory on Saturday.Christian Kirk had given the Aggies the lead on a 10-yard touchdown reception, his third score of the day, on the first possession of overtime before Watts intercepted Arkansas quarterback Austin […]
- Texas Tech snaps Houston's 16-game home winning streak September 23, 2017Nic Shimonek passed for 321 yards and two scores and Texas Tech defeated Houston 27-24 on Saturday, snapping the Cougars' 16-game home winning streak.Shimonek's favorite target was Keke Coutee, who made 11 catches for 161 yards and a score, which came on a 77-yard pass in the third quarter.Houston (2-1) owned the nation's longest active […]
- Gattis, Morton help Astros win 6-2, Angels lose 6th in row September 23, 2017Evan Gattis hit a three-run homer to back a solid start by Charlie Morton and the Houston Astros further dampened the AL wild-card hopes of the Los Angeles Angels with a 6-2 win Saturday.Justin Upton hit two home runs for the Angels, who matched a season worst with their sixth straight loss. Los Angeles began […]
- Verlander, Gurriel lift Astros over Angels 3-0 September 23, 2017Justin Verlander pitched one-hit ball over seven innings to remain perfect with Houston and Yuli Gurriel hit a three-run homer to propel the Astros to a 3-0 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Friday night.Verlander (14-8) walked two and struck out six to improve to 4-0 since being traded from Detroit on Aug. 31.The […]
- Local tennis star inspired by famous tennis match at Astrodome September 23, 2017Opening in theaters this weekend is the movie "Battle of the Sexes."It's based on the tennis match played in 1973 at the Astrodome.A local woman who watched the match as a teen said it inspired her own professional tennis career.Kasey Hughes Wright played college tennis and went on to coach.In a small-world twist, Wright later […]
- These are the NFL players protesting Sunday amid Trump criticism September 24, 2017
- Community happenings, Sept. 24 September 24, 2017Galveston United Methodist Church will host a chicken noodle dinner from 5-7 p.m. Thursday ... The church is located at 515 S. Maple St. in Galveston.
- Community happenings, Sept. 24 September 24, 2017
Travel through time!
- Cap the San Jacinto Waste Pits, Save Galveston Bay September 24, 2017JT Edwards, State Republican Executive Committeeman for Senate District 11, has called for the capping of the San Jacinto River Waste Pits to protect Galveston Bay.
- Galveston County Health District September 23, 2017The Galveston County Health District's Women, Infants and Children division will host a free parenting class focusing on infants on October 16 in Texas City.
- College of the Mainland Board of Trustees September 22, 2017The College of the Mainland Board of Trustees on Thursday voted unanimously to adopt a property tax rate of $0.216791 per $100 valuation for the 2017 Tax Year.
- City of Galveston September 22, 2017The City of Galveston is asking residents to conserve water on Monday due to maintenance at the Thomas Mackey Water Treatment Plant, which provides water to the island.
- Galveston College September 22, 2017Galveston College will kick off its Coastal Culinary Speakers Series on October 5 with Robb Walsh, co-founder of Galveston Eats.
- Galveston College Board of Regents September 22, 2017The Galveston College Board of Regents, in a special meeting today, voted to adopt the college's property tax rate of $0.166188 per $100 valuation for the 2017 Tax Year.
- Galveston County Judge's Office September 22, 2017Galveston County has issued an outreach form to assess damage and provide resources for those affected by Hurricane Harvey.
- Texas A&M University at Galveston September 22, 2017Texas A&M University at Galveston has announced that a report on the Ike Dike project will be featured on CBS's news broadcast, 60 Minutes, on Sunday.
- Texas A&M University at Galveston September 21, 2017Texas A&M University at Galveston was recently awarded $2.54 million to continue researching the Deepwater Horizon spill.
- Cap the San Jacinto Waste Pits, Save Galveston Bay September 24, 2017
- Donald Trump adds more countries to travel ban 25 Sep 2017 05:55 Metro Cafe The restrictions range from an indefinite ban on visas for citizens of countries such as Syria to more targeted restrictions (Picture: EPA) Citizens of eight countries, including North Korea and Venezuela, will face new restrictions on entry to the US …
- George Clooney Blasts Trump And The ... 25 Sep 2017 05:55 The Age George Clooney is a superstar, but he's got absolutely no time for anyone who thinks that makes him out of touch. Leading up to the release of his new movie, Clooney had some very choice words for anyone who thinks he's somehow living in a bubble. …
- Trump signs new travel ban proclamation on 8 countries 25 Sep 2017 05:51 KOIN WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump announced new restrictions on travel to the United States as his ban on visitors from six Muslim-majority countries expiredSunday, 90 days after it went into effect. Trump signed proclamation implementing travel …
- The Latest: Trump administration announces new travel ban 25 Sep 2017 05:51 WFED WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump’s travel ban (all times local): 7 p.m. Travelers from eight countries will face restrictions on entry to the U.S, ranging from a total ban to more targeted restrictions, under a new proclamation …
- Lawyer: Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner used personal email for some White House business 25 Sep 2017 05:49 The Topeka Capital-Journal WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, used his personal email account on dozens of occasions to communicate with colleagues in the White House, his lawyer said Sunday. Between January and August, Kushner either received or …
- Donald Trump promising huge tax cut; focus on taxes vs health care 25 Sep 2017 05:46 The Economic Times MORRISTOWN: President Donald Trump is promising "the largest tax cut in the history of our country" that will slash rates for the middle class and corporations to spark economic growth and jobs. Trump said Sunday his "primary focus" is …
- EXCLUSIVE–John Bolton: Trump Should Decertify, Withdraw from Iran Nuclear Deal Entirely 25 Sep 2017 05:45 Breitbart “I think the president should decertify. I think he should withdraw from the deal entirely,” Bolton told Breitbart News in an exclusive interview outside Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza during the United Nations General Assembly last week. “I think it was a …
- Trump administration announces new travel ban 25 Sep 2017 05:45 Odessa American WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump's travel ban (all times local): 7 p.m. Travelers from eight countries will face restrictions on entry to the U.S, ranging from a total ban to more targeted restrictions, under a new proclamation …
- Pelosi: Trump Has ‘Unclean Hands’ on Race — He Has Exploited Divisions in Our Country 25 Sep 2017 05:45 Breitbart by Pam Key24 Sep 20170 24 Sep, 2017 24 Sep, 2017 Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said President Donald Trump criticizing NFL players for taking a knee during the national anthem at games was a continuation of …
- President Trump Slams Commish Goodell for ‘Justifying’ the NFL’s ‘Disrespect’ for Our Country 25 Sep 2017 05:45 Breitbart On Saturday evening, Trump sent out a tweet urging the commissioner to “tell them to stand!” “Roger Goodell of NFL just put out a statement trying to justify the total disrespect certain players show to our country,” Trump tweeted on September 23. “Tell …
- As a result of Hurricane Harvey, 600 more Texas prisoners getting AC
- Trooper fired for Sandra Bland stop: “My safety was in jeopardy.”
- Mysterious sea creature that washed up on Texas beach after Harvey identified
- Within days, this Austin company hopes to start legally growing marijuana
- Former officer accused of stealing $2,400 from dead man indicted on theft charges
- 135,000 gallons of sludge released into Galveston Bay after equipment failure, officials say
- Post-Harvey, Houston officials hope Congress is up for funding Ike Dike
- Ex-husband strangled Baytown realtor while children in next room, prosecutors say
- Pizza Hut manager threatened workers evacuating for Irma
- The Road to Huntsville
- Now you can carry any knife (almost) anywhere in Texas
- In beleaguered La Marque schools, Harvey stirs up old anxieties
- Flooded cars already being put up for sale
- Trump Nominates Lawyers from Anti-LGBT ‘Religious Freedom’ Group to be Texas Federal Judges
- Man survives being shot 16 times outside southwest Houston home
- Floridians jam highways to flee wrath of Hurricane Irma
- U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul again top contender to be Trump’s homeland security chief
- Experts: Much of Harvey-Related Air Pollution was Preventable
- Texans in Congress aim for united front ahead of long fight for Harvey aid
- Texas churches damaged during Harvey sue FEMA for federal funding
- Amazon wants to open $5 billion second HQ in North America
- New law allows hunting hogs from hot air balloons, but few balloonists will offer it
- New texting while driving ban full of loopholes
- Woman urinates herself, yells racial slurs during DUI arrest, police say
- Police shoot, kill tiger running loose in neighborhood
- What to do if your vehicle flooded during Hurricane Harvey
- House overwhelmingly passes $7.9 billion Harvey aid bill
- Selena’s family mourning the death of Houston relatives killed in Harvey flooding
- Trump ending immigration program that has impacted more than 120,000 in Texas
- Cinco Ranch flood victims demand buyout from federal government
- The Impossible City
- Our Lady of the Underground
- Texas officials see long road from Harvey for state transportation network
- Officials are starting to grapple with the costs of Harvey. Here’s what you should know today.
- Thanks to their State Rep, Friendswood Family Rushes to File Insurance Claim for their Flooded Home
- President Trump to visit Houston today to survey Harvey destruction
- As floodwaters continue to rise in Lake Jackson, crews come in to help with evacuees
- Residents being warned of people impersonating city of Houston, FEMA inspectors
- Renters find issues with flood-damaged units, property
- Crosby plant explosion highlights state efforts to block access to chemical information
- Where the government spends to keep people in flood-prone Houston neighborhoods
- Texas Gov. Greg Abbott: No special session needed for Harvey aid
- Five days after Harvey, here’s where things stand in Texas
- Harvey brings catastrophic flooding to Houston; 5 reported dead
- Trump pardons former Sheriff Joe Arpaio
- Why Houston isn’t ready for Hurricane Harvey
- Judge Emmett, Mayor Turner say ignore ‘rumors’ about Hurricane Harvey
- Galveston Island prepares for Harvey’s impact
- Former Galveston ISD teacher accused of having sex with high school student
- Galveston deputy accused of assaulting girlfriend, investigators say
- In San Antonio, Cops Punch Down
- The Brief: Battle lines are (curiously) drawn in Texas’ redistricting fight
- Analysis: Firing the opening shots in the 2018 GOP primaries
- As Houston plots a sustainable path forward, it’s leaving this neighborhood behind
- Harris County emergency officials preparing for tropical system Harvey
- Federal court puts hold on Houston ordinance aimed at homeless camps
- Puppy attacked by pet store owner’s dog
- Mother left kids in hot car while she drank at bar, police say
- Angela Paxton, Texas attorney general’s wife, eyes Texas Senate run
- US imposes sanctions on Russian, Chinese firms over North Korea
- Parents’ plea for help in finding teenage couple missing for 48 hours
- 2 women claim they were groped by local massage therapist
- Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller criticizes Six Flags’ removal of Confederate flag
- El Paso City Council votes down city ID program
- League City Man Sentenced to 6 Years for Online Solicitation of a non-existent Minor
- UT-Austin removing Confederate statues in the middle of the night
- Galveston County Deputies Prevent Jumper on Bridge at 646 & I-45
- Dickinson Cops use Facebook to Catch a Burglar Named Jesus
- Evading Theft Suspects Taken Into Custody After Causing Accident in League City
- Father faces charges after he and missing boy found at hotel, authorities say
- Confederate Monument Protest Draws Hundreds in Houston
- Former HPD officer among those arrested in prostitution sting
- Mother charged with murder after child ejected during drunken driving crash
- Over 250 sex buyers, traffickers arrested on prostitution charges during sting
- Remember the Alamo (Differently)
- Your phone’s Bluetooth can locate illegal skimmer devices
- With Supreme Court appeal, Texas wants to keep congressional map intact
- Dallas, Houston Protests Planned as Confederate Monuments Under Fire in Texas
- With Trump’s Infrastructure Plan, Rural Texas Could be Left in Disrepair
- Body found in Bayou Vista while searching for woman who disappeared under ‘suspicious circumstances’
- South Florida woman accused of DUI with 3-year-old unbuckled in back seat
- Deputies: Mother tells son to buy her drugs
- HPD officer relieved of duty after DWI charge, officials say
- Abbott: Removing Confederate monuments “won’t erase our nation’s past”
- Prosecution rests at trial of woman accused in 2012 death of husband
- Confederate statue controversy hits Houston
- Selena’s brother taken into custody after landing on most wanted list
- In special session rubble, spotlight shines bright on Straus
- President Trump disbands White House business councils as CEOs leave
- Video shows deadly jailbreak; Man who pleaded guilty in deputy’s death sentenced to life
- Fisherman hooks gator in Buffalo Bayou
- Squatters or scam victims? Homeowner finds another family living in home
- Charges sought against those who toppled Confederate statue
- Houston group asks mayor to remove Confederate statue from downtown park
- Federal court invalidates part of Texas congressional map
- Texas to receive millions in federal funding for wildlife conservation projects
- How a total solar eclipse created France, Italy and Germany
- Deputies Go Unpunished for Invasive Cavity Search on Houston Roadside
- Florida man gets 6 years for firing gun during strip club selfie
- Map details where Texas hate groups are in 2017
- Man blames ‘hookah-smoking caterpillar’ for wrecking liquor store, police say
- ‘I feel like I was raped,’ woman says of invasive roadside strip search
- New Mexico Bandidos members held in Texas in firearms case
- Man, 57, commits suicide after shooting juveniles during road-rage incident, police say
- Mother charged with child abandonment after newborn found in flower bed
- President Trump condemns KKK, neo-Nazis as ‘thugs’
- Woman hit, killed by Houston garbage truck while crossing street
- Legislature advances annexation bill to Gov. Abbott
- 2 Teens Who Attacked Man Shot After Auto Accident in Galveston
- White nationalist rally, counter protest planned at Texas A&M on Sept. 11
- Hundreds Clash over Confederate Monument in San Antonio
- Greenspoint Mall to close in 60 days, sources say
- Texas House approves “compromise” city annexation bill
- Asps — poisonous, stinging caterpillars — back in season
- Texas bathroom bill appears to be all but dead in special session
- Gator spotted on Galveston County road
- After 2015 legalization, Texans may be able to buy medical cannabis oil by January
- Conroe Chief of Police asked to leave doctor’s office
- Law Enforcement Increasingly Opposed to Abbott’s Agenda
- Meet the Expert Who Helps Texas Cops Justify Extreme Behavior
- Baytown woman charged in two La Porte road-rage incidents
- FBI agents searched former Trump campaign chair’s home
- Special Session a ‘Battle Royal’ for Dominionists Who Seek Christian Rule
- Zoo employee accused of sex with 14-year-old boy
- New requirement for Texas driver’s license begins soon
- With 8 days left in special session, Texas House and Senate remain far apart
- What you need to know if your vehicle is flooded
- City of Houston applies for FEMA grant to help elevate homes in flood-prone areas
- Commissioners vote to ban swimming, fishing in San Luis Pass
- Texas backs Wisconsin in battle to protect partisan gerrymandering
- SE Houston gas pump appears to charge customers after they are done filling up
- Carjacking suspect accused of shooting father multiple times sentenced to 171 months in prison
- 4 arrested in connection with 2 deadly shootings in Montgomery County
- 1 drowns, 2 injured in incident at San Luis Pass
- 1 arrested, 1 on the run in linked cases of Spring nurse found dead, missing UH student
- Near Drowning at Bacliff Chase Park Pool
- Drunk Wrong Way Driver Arrested in Dickinson
- Lasker Park Community Swimming Pool to Open on August 15th
- Man accused of touching girls’ buttocks in back-to-school aisle at Walmart
- Rare pink dolphin spotted in Louisiana waterway
- Woman found hiding in bed of pickup truck says she ‘was just looking at the stars’
- Amazon sells out of toilet paper with Trump’s tweets
- Teen home invasion suspect killed, man on the run in Baytown
- Houston man last seen throwing life jacket to daughter before going underwater at Canyon Lake
- Deadly dare: 8-year-old girl dies after drinking boiling water
- 2nd Man In Robbery Spree Gets 20 Years Prison
- Oklahoma to seek death penalty against William Reese
- 4 officers taken to hospital after 2 patrol units run into each other, police say
- STATE LEGISLATURE PUTTING THE BRAKES ON TEXAS CITY ANNEXING SAN LEON WITHOUT SAN LEON RESIDENTS APPROVAL:
- 2 men charged in teen girl’s shooting death in Bacliff
- Weed company buys town in hopes of creating pot-friendly tourist destination
- Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick calls city governments the source of “all our problems in America”
- Man, 25, arrested for DWI after crashing into patrol car, deputies say
- Texas man snags “bucket list” 12-foot tiger shark off Padre Island
- Chauna Thompson, deputy terminated in wake of Denny’s choking death, appeals firing
- Humble ISD police officer accused of child pornography
- Angry woman robs cellphone store with large gun
- Dalia Dippolito discusses prison break in recorded jail call after recent conviction
- Tiny mermaid-painted shed drifted 200 miles in Gulf of Mexico
- Uber ride turns into nightmare for recent Texas A&M graduate
- ‘Sugar daddy’ banned from beaches after handing out provocative cards
- Business owners fight against crime in Chinatown
- 14-year-old girl clocked driving 107 mph during chase in Montgomery County
- Fight outside Spire Nightclub ends in crash, shooting
- When school’s out, rural Texas towns struggle to feed their hungry kids
- Guided bus tour of Houston’s strip clubs, massage parlors sheds light on human-trafficking business
- NASA looking to hire officer to protect earth from alien harm
- In Texas House, property tax proposals range from minor tweaks to abolishment
- Man exposes himself to woman outside fitness center, police say
- Man accused of robbing people who post items on buy, sell sites
- What it means for Texas colleges if Trump targets affirmative action
- ‘Cash Me Outside’ girl sentenced for stealing mother’s car, using her credit cards
- President Trump signs bill imposing sanctions on Russia
- Wife shoots, kills husband after finding him with another woman, police say
- Humble restaurant employees accused of sexually assaulting teenage girls
- Family reunited with dog 3+ years after it went missing
- Angleton animal sanctuary facing fines after filing lawsuit
- Woman finds evidence bag full of marijuana at neighborhood park
- State Rep. Dawnna Dukes declines deal from Travis County District Attorney
- Report: Texas could lose billions if new immigration enforcement law stands
- Texas’ War on Local Control is Part of National Trend
- Wife of accused gunman dies after double shooting that led to innocent woman’s death
- ‘Ghost forests’ appearing from Canada to Texas
- Man charged after leaving crash that left motorcycle rider in critical condition, police say
- Flight in Vegas delayed by naked passenger, officials say
- Galveston’s Pleasure Pier ride Revolution shut down temporarily
- How often do shark attacks happen in Texas waters?
- Naked bank robbery suspect tosses stolen money
- Harris County officials continue crackdown on unlicensed after-hour bars
- Wife: Disagreement over Trump contributed to divorce from state attorney
- Kingwood native torches 8 cars after wedding called off, police say
- HPD officer hit by car, plunges 16 feet off Southwest Freeway
- Texas executes man who claimed his lawyers committed fraud
- Woman arrested on suspicion of posting ‘revenge porn’ online
- Statue honoring Alvin’s hometown hero, Nolan Ryan, topples
- Man arrested after showing porn to child at supermarket, authorities say
- Underage woman claims she was raped after being served at Houston-area restaurant
- The Woodlands teens accused of Florida crime spree after posting Snapchat videos
- La Marque residents asked to boil water after order issued
- Man who fled to Mexico after murder charge 21 years ago arrested trying to re-enter US
- Texas Senate passes bill to allow people to vote on whether a city can annex them
- Spring man caught filming up skirts arrested on child porn, invasive photography charges
- One-armed, machete-wielding clown arrested, police say
- Despite Knowledge of Climate Change in 1970s, Texas Utility Companies Funded Climate Denial
- Venus Williams accuses 78-year-old man killed in crash of not wearing seat belt
- Scammers target college students eager for scholarship money
- Woman accused of kidnapping baby while hitchhiking
- Every Texan in the U.S. House just voted for sanctions against Russia
- Man accused of producing child pornography
- Persistence pays off for rural Texans besieged by sky-high power prices
- Man accused of beating dog with crow bar
- 2 charged with prostitution after offering sex acts to undercover constables, authorities say
- Senate votes to start debate on health care bill
- Harris County pastor charged with sexual abuse of a child
- Trump’s New Immigration Lockup Draws Local Opposition in Conroe
- Set for execution, death row inmate alleges legal fraud in hopes of a stay
- Concerns raised over new Harris County bail system
- Crooks return to rob dentist office after police leave
- 2 throw drugs out window during high-speed chase, police say
- 5 arrested after drugs, gun, money seized from Magnolia home
- 15 years later, Clara Harris remains in state prison for husband’s murder
- Woman, 91, kicked out of Sunnyside home
- Congressman: If female GOP senators were South Texas men, I’d challenge them to a duel
- Turning Tail
- Death toll in San Antonio immigrant-smuggling case rises to 10
- Ex-Mexican drug cartel leader gets 30 years in US prison
- Kushner’s statement on Russia: What to know
- Analysis: In special session, Texas Senate’s the hare, House is the tortoise
- Texas Senate panel targets mail-in ballot fraud after high-profile case
- Drunk Driver Sentenced to 50 Years for Fatal Crash
- Tanker Crew Rescues 5 In Capsized Boat
- Man Sentenced to 45 Years on Drug Charges
- After Texas “human trafficking crime,” Lt. Gov. Patrick lauds sanctuary city law
- Charges possible in disturbing Florida drowning case
- Texas Senate committee OKs bill to outlaw city cellphone restrictions
- Texas Senate panel approves teacher bonuses, retirement benefits
- Carjacking suspect opens fire on officer during chase in SW Houston
- Man, 2 children killed in crash in NE Houston
- Katy woman arrested for DWI after man follows, records her erratic driving
- Mickey Mouse mask-wearing burglar caught on camera breaking into 2 stores
- Houston pastor Victoria Osteen says she does not endorse skin care product
- Senate committee passes bills on private school choice and school finance study
- Bill limiting city, county spending fuels war over local control
- Woman, 93, dragged during carjacking at church, police say
- Trans Texans, Advocates Swarm Texas Capitol to Oppose ‘Bathroom Bills’ (Again)
- Man admits to killing 14-year-old half-brother, authorities say
- Monkey on the loose in south Houston after attacking girl, police say
- ‘Million Dollar Ho’ arrested in Florida prostitution sting
- Turner reopens bids for recycling contract to 4 companies
- District attorney to pursue death penalty against 4 suspects
- Houston woman charged in connection with ransom scheme
- Pastor in The Woodlands accused of prostitution
- Academy Sports + Outdoors laying off 100 employees
- 1 dead after shooting at NW Harris County apartments
- Kay Bailey Hutchison vows toughness on Russia as NATO ambassador
- Conroe horse-riding trainer accused of sexually assaulting child
- Environmental groups sue EPA over lax Texas air pollution permits
- Abbott adds school finance, retired teacher benefits to special session
- Bodycam allegedly shows Baltimore cop planting drugs
- Key events in OJ Simpson’s fall from sports hero, movie star
- Heat is part of life at Texas prisons, but federal judge orders one to cool it
- Growing health trend bypasses doctors’ offices for diagnosis, treatment
- HPD chief answers questions about Josue Flores murder case
- Sarah Davis wants more information about “misconduct” at TABC
- Texas Bill Would Revoke Medical License of Doctors Who Perform Abortions
- Senate gives early OK to must-pass “sunset” legislation
- Lead singer of The Suffers featured in national campaign
- Man wanted in 2016 fraud case
- Couple arrested for second time for impersonating Adele’s manager, police say
- Mexico says electronic device checks on US flights begin
- Dancing with Denial
- Teen shot at high school party at AirBNB house in southwest Houston
- Toll road drivers getting fed up with erroneous charges
- Trump administration: Trust Texas on voter education spending
- Baby dies after being infected with cold sore virus through kiss, parents say
- 24 firearms stolen after Texian Firearms robbed twice in one day
- Texas Republicans in Congress process health care bill’s collapse
- Florida man arrested after reporting cocaine stolen, deputies say
- Teens arrested after Facebook Live video of 23-year-old woman’s assault
- Girl, 17, fires shot at intruder while chasing him out of her house
- Police: Aunt charged after leaving young neice, nephew in hot car outside grocery store
- Texas Senate moves to fast-track special session agenda
- President Trump: ‘Let Obamacare fail’
- Why the murder charge against the Texas police officer who killed Jordan Edwards is rare
- What happens if Congress fails to repeal Obamacare?
- Four Texas Republicans in Congress were just outraised by Democratic challengers
- Angleton mulls proposal for RV park next to Stephen F. Austin statue
- Trump administration awards $2.3 million to Texas for border security
- Texas Democrats lay out their own special session priorities
- Gov. Abbott says property taxes are his top issue for special session
- Small Government Crusader Wants $35 Million to Fix a Battleship in His District
- OJ Simpson faces good chance at parole in Nevada robbery
- It’s a Trump Miracle! There are Signs of Life Among Texas Democrats
- IBM ups the ante in fight against Texas bathroom bill
- At some Texas universities, students accused of rape can transfer without a record
- Gas pump overcharges customers in League City
- Father survives after van crushed by 7,000-pound scrap metal
- Two killed in crash during police chase in NE Houston, police say
- At tail end of Texas redistricting trial, judges skeptical of state’s defense
- After dissident’s death, Ted Cruz hopeful about changing Chinese Embassy address
- Harris County Toll Road Authority faces lawsuit over fees charged to drivers
- 1 killed in shooting at Bella Terra shopping center in Fort Bend County, deputies say
- On day 5 of redistricting trial, Texas refutes claim that current political maps discriminate
- Trump Administration Preparing Texas Wildlife Refuge for First Border Wall Segment
- Second arrest made in death of 79-year-old Hedwig Village woman
- Greg Abbott’s Latino Problem
- Texas Gov. Greg Abbott formally launches 2018 re-election bid
- Licensing director is seventh official out at troubled Texas liquor agency
- Sketch released of man wanted in shooting that wounded 1-year-old
- Critics say Abbott catering to donors with special session priorities
- Former deputy constable facing sexual assault charges; other victims sought
- Man on Jet Ski catches goliath grouper off coast
- DPS trooper accused of prostitution
- Two arrested in connection with prostitution spas near The Woodlands
- MEET JOY: Baby elephant born at the Houston Zoo
- Revised Senate health care bill draws Cruz’s support but still short votes
- Heartbreakers in Dickinson and Jackie’s Brickhouse in Kemah Sued by Victim of Drunk Driver
- Galveston Yacht Captain Who Used Phony ID To Hide After Mysterious Deaths Is Sentenced
- Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick proposes millions for teacher bonuses and retirement
- Texas Republican congressman calls on Trump to keep his kids out of White House
- Trump meeting with France’s Macron in Paris
- Beto O’Rourke posts $2 million in fundraising in bid against Ted Cruz
- As congressional races draw big interest, Democrats still filling out statewide ticket
- Lawmakers failed to end troubled Driver Responsibility Program
- Man sues city, HPD, officer after excessive-force arrest, lawsuit says
- Family escapes SUV after it catches fire, days after purchase
- In court, redistricting battle puts sharper focus on 2013 Legislature
- Push made for change in evaluation of parolees after repeated crimes
- Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission names lone finalist for new executive director
- U.S. Rep. Al Green joins California Democrat’s effort to impeach President Trump
- Police seek father suspected of causing brain injury to child
- 4 arrested during home invasion in north Harris County, deputies say
- NYC launches $32 million plan to reduce rat population
- Houston public works director placed on leave amid bribery case involving HCC trustee
- Prying Eyes: Border Sheriffs to Use Iris-Scanning Tech in Push for ‘Virtual Wall’
- Trump defends embattled son after Fox News interview
- Texas death row inmate Scott Panetti to get further competency review
- Firefighters demanding pay raise in line with police officer salaries
- Former housekeeper’s son accused in Hedwig Village woman’s murder
- Two women accused of attacking woman with a hammer
- Woman, children left devastated after husband murdered by ex
- New executive director appointed to troubled Texas liquor agency
- U.S. Sens. Cornyn and Cruz sidestep questions about Trump and Russia
- Don’t throw rocks in glass cars? Glass concept car unveiled
- Community removes basketball hoop from park due to profanity
- Tow truck driver finds father of 4 shot to death outside SW Houston apartments
- Susan Combs, Fierce Critic of Endangered Species Act, Tapped for Agency in Charge of its Implementation
- Harris County will not join suit over state’s ‘sanctuary cities’ law
- Report: Shopping for electricity is getting cheaper in Texas
- Jenna Bush Hager goes through astronaut training at NASA’s JSC
- Trump Jr. tweets email chain on meeting with Russian lawyer
- Beachgoers form human chain to rescue family in water
- Five New Laws that Will Likely Get Texas Sued (Or Already Have)
- Sketch released of woman sought in northwest Houston shooting
- Video shows police officer violently beating homeless woman
- Voting rights battle in Pasadena could have Texas-wide legal ramifications
- Trial over Texas political maps starts in San Antonio
- 2 charged with capital murder after shooting man during drug deal, dumping body, police say
- Astros reach All-Star break in midst of historic season
- Willie Nelson on the road again, coming to Sugar Land’s Smart Financial Centre
- Texas Lawmaker Files Bill to Repeal SB 4 During Special Session
- Woman sought in shooting near Missouri City
- Shots fired at officers in southeast Houston, police say
- Man arrested after alleged road rage incident
- Report: Loopholes Allow Polluters to Get Away With Worsening Air Quality
- Corvette-driving North Carolina priest arrested in Florida road-rage incident
- Prosecutors: 12 people rescued after being locked in sweltering truck
- Abbott officially calls special session, allowing lawmakers to begin filing bills
- SWAT standoff at southeast Houston lounge turns out to be misunderstanding, police say
- Acting director of Texas liquor agency abruptly quits
- With 2018 election looming, Texas back in court over political maps
- This Texan’s daughter needed medical marijuana, so he moved to Colorado
- 11 teens hospitalized after eating drug-laced gummy bears
- Upcoming Area Live Music Shows thru August
- Man catches 1,033-pound hammerhead shark in Texas City fishing tournament
- Handcuffs couldn’t stop man from proposing to girlfriend
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- Sen. Ted Cruz speaks with CVA at town hall meeting in Houston
- Woman pleads guilty to voting twice for Donald Trump in US election
- Biker gang member added to Texas Top 10 fugitives by DPS:
- Mother charged with child endangerment after leaving 4 children in hot car, police say
- Harris County judge suspended without pay amid drug, prostitution allegations
- Blue bullfrog reported in Iowa
- Texans to be allowed to carry swords, machetes in public places:
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- Inmate’s escape: Phones, wire cutters, a drone and $47,000
- Federal judge throws out effort by UT professors to overturn campus carry
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- Celebratory gunfire enters child’s room at Oak Forest home
- Back home in Texas, Cruz confronts health care politics
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- Ex-Texas City police officer facing theft, drug charges
- Trump administration: New Texas voter ID law fixes discrimination
- Lawmaker urged Abbott to veto bill legalizing hot air balloon hog hunting
- ‘Habitual offenders’ caught during theft, arrested, police say
- City threatens veteran with fine for flag in front yard
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- ‘Recipe for Discrimination’: Legal Battle Brews Over New ‘Religious Refusal’ Child Welfare Law
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- My grandfather was a death row doctor. He tested psychedelic drugs on Texas inmates.
- Residents concerned over dangerous intersection after 4 crashes in 1 month
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- Man catches massive 964-pound shark during Texas City fishing tournament
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- Christie defends use of beach closed to public amid shutdown
- Man pretends to be FBI agent after crash, police say
- Illegal Immigrants Returning To Mexico For American Jobs
- Texas City commissioner charged in Galveston Causeway crash that killed 2
- Some counties question need of special courts for law enforcement
- Texas is putting troubled nursing homes on notice
- Gurriel, Astros win 8-1, Yanks’ 14th loss in 19 games
- As Baylor regent, top Austin lobbyist called drinking female students “perverted little tarts”
- Man sits on gun, shoots self in genitals, police say
- Hey, Texplainer: Is Texas handing over my voting data to the federal government?
- Religious rituals, sex, revenge led to Alvin man’s murder, court documents say
- Police shoot dogs while responding to burglary call in SW Houston
- Federal government wins right to seize Houston’s Islamic Education Center
- Woman charged with murder after shooting live-in boyfriend to death in Brazoria County
- Dozens of Houston shelter puppies get a chance at life in Ohio
- Texas liquor agency rebuked after investigation of Spec’s
- Sketch released of woman believed to have been dumped at Bayland Park
- State Rep. Dukes pleads not guilty to abuse-of-office charges
- Texas Supreme Court rejects Tea Party challenge to campaign finance laws
- Texas Supreme Court sends same-sex marriage benefits case back to lower court
- MSNBC’s Brzezinski, Scarborough: ‘Donald Trump is not well’
- Attorney General Ken Paxton shows up in Houston court on security fraud charge
- Shooting leaves 2 San Antonio police officers, gunman critically wounded
- The Weirdest News from Far-Flung Texas, June Edition
- 98-year-old woman arrested at fuel pipeline protest
- Trial date still uncertain as new judge holds first hearing in Paxton case
- Trump taps Kay Bailey Hutchison to serve as NATO ambassador
- Texas leads 10 states in urging Trump to end Obama-era immigration program
- Trump tweets assault on MSNBC hosts
- Authorities vow no more ‘slaps on the wrist’ for Houston-area violent criminals
- Perjury charge dropped against officer in Sandra Bland case
- Man sought for questioning in fatal League City shooting
- Woman fatally shoots boyfriend in YouTube stunt
- The Texas solar industry is growing. Some fear an international trade case could end that.
- Pregnant woman faces aggravated assault with deadly weapon charge after running over purse-snatcher
- New FDA-approved drug reduces risk of cancer progression, death
- 3rd suspect in connection to 10-month-old’s death in jail on unrelated charge
- MS-13 gang member facing 2 murder charges
- Perjury charge dropped against trooper who arrested Sandra Bland
- Man discovers son is alive after he thought he buried him
- Chris Paul to be traded to Houston Rockets, sources say
- Prosecutors: Woman ran over neighbor twice while he mowed his lawn
- Trump has left 17 legal vacancies in Texas
- Sid Miller doesn’t rule out joining Trump’s Agriculture Department
- Clear Lake community at odds over proposed homeless shelter
- Bikini hiring contest for nuclear plant interns gets toxic reaction
- Man marries foreign exchange student, sexually assaults teen sister, police say
- Woman arrested, accused of choking dog to death
- 2nd man charged with capital murder in shooting death of 10-month-old boy
- Tarantulas, scorpions found in abandoned apartment
- Mother baffled after son is injured when slide explodes at park
- Former Friendswood officer charged with indecency with child
- How the GOP Health Plan Would Give Governor Abbott Power Over Your Coverage
- Teens accused of stealing man’s life savings, guns, Porsche
- Woman suffers stroke, left paralyzed after sex with husband
- Houston among top 10 cities for vehicles with open recalls
- Memorial Hermann laying off 350 employees
- McConnell to delay health bill vote until after recess
- Man behind Fisher affirmative action case files new lawsuit against UT-Austin
- Police: Trio beats armored truck guard during West University Place robbery
- Man accused of sexually assaulting underage girl for at least 3 years
- Over the Wall: How Texas Border Communities Are Gearing Up to Fight Trump
- Officer, prisoner injured when taxi hits police cruiser
- White House warns Syria’s Assad against chemical attack
- ‘America’s deadliest drug’ found on streets of Houston
- Hey, Texplainer: Do I still have to get my car inspected every year?
- New Texas GOP chair starts tenure with big platform push
- State Attorneys: Senate Bill 4 Is ‘Moderate’ Compared to Arizona’s ‘Papers, Please’ Law
- Attorneys spar over Texas immigration law in federal court
- Magnolia man accused of impersonating officer in Tomball neighborhood
- What the latest U.S. Supreme Court rulings mean for Texas
- Texas’ new immigration law is in court Monday. What’s happened so far?
- ‘I used my mommy voice,’ says officer who subdued unruly Southwest passenger
- Exotic animals and Texas law
- U.S. Supreme Court tosses cross-border shooting case back to lower court
- Texas death row inmate loses at U.S. Supreme Court, could face execution date
- Supreme Court reinstates President Trump’s travel ban
- Protesters Surround Courthouse as First Major SB 4 Hearing Begins
- Philando Castile’s family reaches $3 million settlement
- Court to hear arguments in lawsuit over state’s ‘sanctuary cities’ law
- Why a Colorado case over “religious refusals” could matter to Texas
- REMINDER: Obama quietly legalized the use of propaganda (fake news) on Americans in 2013 - then he killed the reporter who wrote this article on it. September 25, 2017submitted by /u/Tenmagnet [link] [comments]/u/Tenmagnet
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- I was shown a video a little over a month ago of the Twin Towers collapsing on 9/11. Ever since then I have been researching and questioning everything. September 24, 2017My friend turned me onto this video he knows I'm not a big conspiracy guy and for the longest time I truly believed that our government didn't have any involvement with the attack that happened on the Twin Towers. Ever since he has shown this footage to me though I have been questioning and researching […]/u/justathrowaway6878
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- Building 7 was a 47-story skyscraper and was part of the World Trade Center complex. It collapsed at 5:20 pm on September 11, 2001. It was not hit by an airplane and suffered minimal damage compared to other buildings much closer to the Twin Towers. 7 Facts about Building 7 September 24, 2017submitted by /u/Orangutan [link] [comments]/u/Orangutan
- Secret Document Reveals Former CIA Director’s Plan to Make Reading WikiLeaks a Crime | Global Research - Centre for Research on Globalization September 24, 2017submitted by /u/i-am-a-genius [link] [comments]/u/i-am-a-genius
- BREAKING: Russia Releases Photos Claiming to Show US Spec Ops Equipment in ISIS Positions in Syria September 24, 2017submitted by /u/LightBringerFlex [link] [comments]/u/LightBringerFlex
- Antifa in Berkeley is handing this out to anyone taking pictures - Translation: "Don't expose our violent crimes to the authorities, for your own safety!" September 24, 2017submitted by /u/Mark_Dan [link] [comments]/u/Mark_Dan
- REMINDER: Obama quietly legalized the use of propaganda (fake news) on Americans in 2013 - then he killed the reporter who wrote this article on it. September 25, 2017
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Thanks to Hurricane Harvey, about 600 more Texas prisoners are set to get a break from the sweltering Texas heat.
The inmates had been evacuated from the flood-prone Stringfellow Unit ahead of the storm. But Texas prison officials, scrambling to get the inmates to safety, sent them to the notoriously hot (though dry) Wallace Pack Unit in Navasota.
Once there, a judge ruled, the prisoners were made eligible to join a special class of heat-sensitive inmates subject to a federal lawsuit over hot conditions that have been blamed for nearly two dozen deaths over the last two decades. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice will now have to find cooler beds for them.
“The risk of harm to these individuals when they are housed in dangerously hot areas has not changed,” federal Judge Keith Ellison wrote in his order, which was made public Friday.
Department of Criminal Justice lawyers had requested that the temporary order be lifted for these prisoners because they were evacuated to the Pack Unit in an emergency situation. Ellison denied the request. Department spokesman Jason Clark said sending them to the Pack Unit was appropriate given the other options as Harvey was bearing down on the Houston area.
The non-air-conditioned prison in Navasota had largely been emptied because of the federal court’s July order to move any medically vulnerable inmates at the prison into temperatures that remain below 88 degrees.
“The alternative was for buses to pass the near empty facility and continue on dangerous roadways and place those offenders in another facility’s gymnasium,” Clark said in an emailed statement. “We stand by our decision to keep offenders out of harm’s way.”
Jeff Edwards, lead attorney for the plaintiffs, said the department moved the inmates into the Pack Unit “without regard to their medical conditions or their heat vulnerability.”
“The consequence of TDCJ violating the court’s order is that another 600 heat vulnerable inmates will no longer be endangered by the high temperatures,” Edwards said. “They did it with full knowledge that they were violating the court order.”
The judge’s ruling came just as most of the Texas inmates who were evacuated from flooded prison grounds are being sent back to their original units this weekend. All told, about 6,000 prisoners were evacuated to escape Harvey’s wrath. About 1,400 were already sent back to the Vance and Jester 3 units last Monday.
The 600 heat-sensitive inmates sent to the Pack Unit — including the elderly, obese and diabetic — were among more than 1,000 evacuees from the Stringfellow unit in Brazoria. Ironically, Stringfellow isn’t air-conditioned, either, but it doesn’t have the cursed status of the Pack Unit.
Not yet, anyway.
Almost 75 percent of Texas prisons and state jails have no air conditioning in the inmates’ living areas, and at some prisons, like the Pack Unit, temperatures regularly get above 100 degrees, according to the judge’s July ruling. The lawsuit filed by prisoners at the Pack Unit cites at least 23 heat-related deaths in Texas prisons since 1998 and argues that housing should be kept at a maximum of 88 degrees. The lawsuit covers all Pack unit inmates, regardless of their length of stay.
In a scathing July order, Ellison said TDCJ was “deliberately indifferent” to the risk of harm the inmates at the sweltering prison face. Because of the ruling, more than 1,000 inmates housed at the prison were moved in August to 11 other prisons with air conditioning.
TDCJ has appealed the court’s July order and says the department does enough to combat the heat without providing air-conditioning in housing areas, such as unlimited ice water, personal fans and air-conditioned “respite” areas in the prisons where inmates can go to escape the heat.
Former Texas Department of Safety Trooper Brian Encinia said he feared for his personal safety after pulling over Sandra Bland in Waller County on July 21, 2015.
“My safety was in jeopardy at more than one time,” said Encinia, during an interview by the agency’s Office of Inspector General, when asked if he was scared during the traffic stop.
Audio from the interview, which took place three months after Bland was found dead in her jail cell, was recently released to KXAN-TV. Encinia has never been questioned in a criminal or civil court or spoken publicly to explain his actions that day.
Encinia stopped Bland, 28, in Prairie View for failing to signal a lane change. Their interaction quickly became heated and she was ultimately arrested on suspicion of assaulting a public servant. She was found hanged in her jail cell three days later.
After her death, dashboard camera video of the arrest gained national attention and contradicted Encinia’s official report of the incident. He was fired from DPS and indicted on a perjury charge for lying in his report, but the charge was dropped after Encinia agreed to give up his police license and never seek another job in law enforcement.
In the audio recording, Encinia said he became concerned by the way Bland was acting and her movements inside her car as he watched from his patrol vehicle while writing her a warning citation.
“I knew something was wrong, but I didn’t know what was wrong. I didn’t know if a crime was being committed, had been committed or whatnot,” said the trooper.
When asked what crime he believed Bland was committing, or about to commit, Encinia responded: “I had a feeling that anything could’ve been either retrieved or hidden within her area of control. My primary concern was with that purse, with her console, as far as being any kinds of weapons or drugs or, it’s unknown to me. I don’t know what happened, but something did, and to me that was the reasonable suspicion.”
But when investigators asked why he didn’t order Bland out of the car at that point, or ask what she was doing, Encinia said he had no answer.
In a newly released DPS use-of-force report from the arrest, Encinia’s supervisor says the trooper was rude when asking Bland why she seemed irritated and when he asked her if she was done after she stopped talking. The report also says he did not follow procedure when he didn’t tell Bland what action he was going to take and the situation had already gotten out of hand.
The interaction was tense almost immediately, and escalated after Encinia asked Bland to get out of the car when she refused to put out a cigarette. When she didn’t comply, he opened her car door, threatened to drag her out and told her, “I will light you up.”
“I think things could’ve been handled differently, yes sir. I still did have a concern for the area of her control that I didn’t know what was there, but I do agree that things could’ve been done differently,” said Encinia, when asked if he could have de-escalated the situation by telling Bland she was only being given a warning for the traffic violation.
When asked why he did not initially tell Bland why she was under arrest, Encinia said, “I don’t have a reason for that, no sir.”
Encinia denied racially profiling Bland, a black woman.
Encinia said Bland had driven through a stop sign as she left the Prairie View A&M campus, but the trooper admitted he was unsure if it was on private or public property.”I was unsure at the time if that stop sign was located at a public or private roadway,” said Encinia.
Knowing he could not ticket Bland for failure to stop at the sign, Encinia went on to explain why he followed her. “I was checking the condition of the vehicle, such as the make, the model, had a license plate, any other conditions.”
KXAN reached out to Encinia, but he declined an interview request. When asked if DPS had a comment, a spokesman for the department pointed out that DPS terminated Encinia.
Encinia’s statements during the DPS administrative investigation were criticized by the San Antonio-based attorney who helped represent the Bland family.
“First of all, the grand jury didn’t believe it. They indicted him. Secondly, the DPS didn’t believe it. They fired him. And thirdly, the family doesn’t believe it and I certainly don’t believe it,” said Bland family attorney Tom Rhodes. “It’s just nonsense. It was justification made up by him, in a not very intelligent way, to justify his illegal use of force against her.”
Additional material from Jolie McCullough of The Texas Tribune.
Photos of a mysterious sea creature that washed up on a Texas beach after Hurricane Harvey have gone viral.
The photos were posted on Twitter on Sept. 6 by Preeti Desai, a social media manager at the National Audubon Society.
Desai captioned the photos by saying, “Okay, biology twitter, what the heck is this?”
— Preeti Desai? (@preetalina) September 6, 2017
Preeti said she spotted the creature on a beach about 15 miles outside Galveston.
She traveled to Texas with other conservationists to assess the damage from the storm.
The photos immediately went viral and garnered several responses from her followers and others on social media.
Tighe said he believed the creature was a fangtooth snake-eel, or possibly a garden or conger eel, according to the BBC News article.
Tighe told Earth Touch News Network those eel species occur off the Texas coast and live in burrows 100-300 feet down.
Desai did not say how long or big the creature was but according to Fishbase.org, a male fangtooth snake-eel can reach a maximum total length of 84 centimeters.
After taking the photos, Desai told BBC News that she left the creature alone to let nature take its course.
She tweeted on Wednesday that the creature wasn’t frightening, colossal or a monster, just a sea creature trying to live its life.
The winding road that leads to Compassionate Cultivation could easily be mistaken for a dead end. It takes several seconds before drivers get off the main road and end up at a warehouse immediately surrounded by a dirt lot.
In a few months, however, scientists and manufacturers working out of this warehouse in Austin will begin legally growing marijuana.
“Soon we’ll have a variety of products that’ll be available that’ll tailor to the different needs of our patients,” said Morris Denton, the CEO for Compassionate Cultivation.
This comes after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a measure in 2015 to narrowly allow for the growing or sale of marijuana. The Texas Compassionate Use Act legalized the selling of a specific kind of cannabis oil derived from marijuana plants for a very small group of customers: epilepsy patients whose symptoms have not responded to federally approved medication.
The law allows for the sale of oils with low levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive element in marijuana, and high levels of cannabidiol (CBD), a non-euphoric component known to treat epilepsy and other chronic medical conditions. The Compassionate Use Act tasked the Texas Department of Public Safety with licensing at least three dispensing organizations by Sept. 1, 2017.
Two weeks after that deadline, only one dispensary has received final approval. Two other dispensaries — Surterra Texas and Compassionate Cultivation — are still “under review for statutory compliance,” according to DPS spokesman Tom Vinger.
“We’re in a matter of days before securing our license,” Denton said. “Assuming we comply and pass the on-site inspection, we’ll receive our final license within about 24 hours of that visit.”
Denton said he’s following the 19-page checklist from DPS to a tee: The building is armed with 71 security cameras and several badge readers to ensure maximum security. And the room that’ll store the medicine has two separate cameras and five different locks on it, even though it won’t be used for at least four months, the time it takes hemp seeds to produce plants from which CBD oil can be derived.
“This is where everything starts,” Denton said. “Both for us and for the the people with intractable epilepsy who need this medication.”
Twenty-nine states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico now allow for comprehensive public medical marijuana and cannabis programs, according to the National Council of State Legislatures. Texas is one of 17 states to pass a law allowing for the use of “low THC, high CBD” products for medical reasons in limited situations.
On Sept. 1, Cansortium Texas became the first dispensary to receive final DPS approval. Along with completing a lengthy inspection report, the dispensary also paid an annual fee to the state of more than $400,000.
“Cansortium Texas is both humbled and honored to have earned a license as a low-THC dispensing organization,” the company said in a statement. “Suffering patients are one step closer to achieving the medical relief they so desperately seek and Cansortium Texas is ready to fulfill this need.”
“We essentially are growing marijuana in here”
As it awaits its state license, Compassionate Cultivation employees gave the Tribune a tour of its dispensary and explained how they plan to create the cannabis oil that they hope a small number of Texans will be able to purchase by January.
The process starts with planting hemp seeds, which are already legal in Texas, in a vegetation room where they will be grown and monitored at a specific temperature and humidity. After a plant has gone through a growing period of several days, it will be brought into a flower room — Compassionate Cultivation has four — where it will finish out the remainder of its growth cycle and later mature into a cannabis plant.
Denton said that, per state regulations outlined by DPS, the three dispensaries are not allowed to have any cannabis containing more than 0.5 percent THC at any time in their facilities. (For context, strains of marijuana legally available in Colorado can have THC levels as high as 28 percent.) To ensure the plants stay within those limitations, Denton said scientists in his facility will test every plant during each step of the process.
“We’re essentially growing marijuana in here,” Denton said.
Different strains of cannabis have different THC levels.
“Just like wines come from different regions and have different grapes, cannabis has different strains which produce different cultivar,” Denton said. The strain the dispensaries are most interested in are the ones known for producing a high concentration and high potency of CBD.
“We get a strain of a plant that we know is capable of producing strong amounts of CBD, and then we have to grow that plant and put it through its maturation phase, which is typically about 80 to 95 days,” Denton said.
Next up comes the harvesting process, Denton said, which entails cutting and drying the plant. That takes another week.
When all the moisture is removed from the plant, it’s then pulverized and turned into “what almost looks like bags of tea,” Denton said. Once the plant particles have been pulverized, it’s put into an extraction machine that Chris Woods, the director of procession for Compassionate Cultivation, compared to “making a broth or a stew.”
The plant goes through the extraction process until oil is dispensed, which takes about 10 to 12 hours. But the oil needs to be tested, processed and manufactured before it can be used in the products Compassionate Cultivation will sell to its customers. The testing and manufacturing process takes another several days, Denton said.
“Once we have that oil, we test it to make sure it’s exactly what we want it to be, and then that oil can get infused into whatever the products are that we’re going to produce on behalf of our patients,” Denton said.
Denton said his dispensary uses as much of the plant as possible to yield the greatest amount of CBD, and whatever is not used is then pulverized and turned into mulch.
“None of the plant matter is thrown away in any way whatsoever. It can turn into soil,” he said.
A small population seeking relief
Despite the time and effort each dispensary will take to get licensed and begin producing cannabis oil, each will only be serving a select group of individuals.
According to Sindi Rosales, the CEO of the Epilepsy Foundation of Central & South Texas, roughly 160,000 Texans have intractable epilepsy — only 0.57 percent of the state’s total population.
“Even if this ends up only benefiting a small number of people, I think they’re grateful that they have this opportunity,” Rosales said. “Even if it’s a small number, why not provide this medicine if it’s available?”
Other advocates, however, point out that while Texas is making strides in the right direction, an even smaller group — epilepsy patients whose symptoms have not responded to federally approved medication — will be allowed access to the medicine.
“This is kind of a bittersweet time for those of us who are advocating for reform,” said Heather Fazio, a spokesperson for Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy. “We’re happy the process is moving along, but it’s such a limited program and we know there are so many other people who could benefit from this if the program was more inclusive.”
Despite the small population of Texans who will actually able to use the medicine, advocates agree that the dispensaries could be life-changing for those who benefit from it.
“We’re just asking for another tool in our toolkit that we can offer people who are desperate and that’s what this is,” Rosales said. This may or may not work, but it should definitely be offered.”
“I think there’s a great deal of compassion in the Compassionate Use Act, and I think that’s very great and very encouraging,” she added.
A former police officer was indicted for felony theft Wednesday.
Linnard Crouch, 41, turned himself in to the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office at about 3:15 p.m.
A former Texas City Police Department officer, Crouch is accused of stealing more than $2,400 worth of Christmas money from James Mabe, who authorities said was dying or had just died while driving home near 4000 Loop 197.
The crime, recorded on a body camera, happened days before Christmas in 2016.
“Unfortunately, I have seen all too many times officers who take advantage of situations,” said civil rights lawyer and the Mabe family lawyer Randall L. Kallinen.
Equipment malfunction is to blame for the release of 135,000 gallons of partially treated aerated sludge into Galveston Bay on Tuesday, according to the city.
At about 10:15 a.m., the City of Galveston Main Wastewater Treatment Plant at 5200 Port Industrial Road released 135,000 gallons of sludge after authorities said a unit failed.
The city has removed the unit where the failure happened.
The city will send water samples for testing.
No adverse impacts to aquatic life have been noted, but the city will continue to monitor the bay closely.
The release has no impact on the city’s drinking water supply.
The city said people should avoid contact with the waste material, soil, or water potentially affected by the spill.
Fishing in the area affected by the spill is strongly discouraged.
Anyone with questions or concerns can call the City Public Information Office at 409-797-3546.
HOUSTON — Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner on Tuesday gave his strongest endorsement to date for constructing a physical coastal barrier to protect the region from deadly storm surge during hurricanes.
Though such a barrier system would not have guarded against the unrelenting and unprecedented rain Hurricane Harvey dumped on the area, Turner — one of the region’s last leaders to endorse the “coastal spine” concept — said at a Tuesday news conference that he believes it is crucial.
“We cannot talk about rebuilding” from Harvey “if we do not build the coastal spine,” he said.
With Harvey — which was downgraded to a tropical storm by the time it reached Houston — “we again dodged the bullet.”
Constructing such a system has been a point of discussion since 2008, when Hurricane Ike shifted course at the last minute, narrowly sparing populated communities like Clear Lake and the Houston Ship Channel — home to the nation’s largest refining and petrochemical complex — from a massive storm surge. Scientists have modeled worst-case scenario storms that make clear the potential for devastation, which The Texas Tribune and ProPublica detailed extensively in a 2016 investigation. They also have urged local, state and federal elected officials to pursue infrastructure solutions, which they expect the federal government to fund.
Last year those scientists and officials told The Texas Tribune and ProPublica that a catastrophic storm likely would have to hit Houston before they could convince Congress to fund such an endeavor — estimated to cost some $5.8 billion for the Houston area alone and at least $11 billion for the entire six-county coastal region. Such an ambitious public works project has never been built in anticipation of a natural catastrophe.
Turner and other leaders are clearly hoping Harvey fits the bill.
They have suggested that the federal government could provide funding for a storm surge barrier — often referred to as the “Ike Dike,” a proposal first offered up by Texas A&M University at Galveston in 2009 — and a variety of other storm protection measures as part of an overall Harvey relief package.
But the $15 billion Congress has approved for Texas so far can’t be spent on a coastal barrier; the money can only go toward rehabilitating flooded areas. That means local and state officials will either have to depend on Congress to fund something completely separate — a scenario many are doubtful of — or cobble together other funding. (Efforts to do so during this year’s legislative session fell short.)
At both the state and federal level, talk of protecting the Houston area from big storms has in recent years been dominated by the coastal barrier concept.
U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush have been leading an effort to secure federal funding for the coastal spine; in April, they and other officials, including Turner, wrote to President Trump urging his support. On Tuesday, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick named new chiefs of a joint House-Senate committee formed in a few years ago to study the feasibility of the project; The panel has met only twice.
But the Ike Dike would only protect coastal areas from catastrophic storm surge; it would do nothing to prevent flooding damage from torrential rain, which is almost entirely responsible for the damage Houstonians suffered from Harvey.
Other flood protection ideas — either underfunded or long-abandoned — have received renewed attention since Harvey.
On Tuesday, Turner joined local officials in expressing support for a long-delayed reservoir project that experts say would’ve saved thousands of Houston homes from flooding during Harvey, along with three bayou widening projects estimated to cost a combined $130 million.
Turner said the city shouldn’t have to choose one over the other as it seeks federal funding.
“I don’t think we need to pick one,” he said. “… We know we need another reservoir. We just need to step up and do that — the same thing with the coastal spine.”
A spokeswoman for U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul said Tuesday that the Austin Republican “has been working with FEMA, Gov. [Greg] Abbott and local officials to identify options for flood mitigation to protect Houston and the surrounding areas from future flood disasters.”
McCaul may hold extra clout as chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. But Adrian Garcia, a former city councilman and Harris County sheriff, said he’s not optimistic Texas will get much funding for these projects from Congress beyond the multi-billion dollar short-term aid package.
“They thought [the Ike Dike] would be the answer to a lot of these problems,” Garcia said. “And obviously it is not.”
Turner’s advocacy for the coastal barrier concept is relatively new.
Early last year, amid the Texas Tribune/ProPublica investigation, Turner declined an interview request to discuss the need for such a barrier. Instead, the city sent statements dismissing the potential impacts — and not indicating whether Turner supported such a project, which dozens of area city councils had enthusiastically endorsed.
“Only a small portion of the city of Houston is in areas at risk for major storm surge,” the statement said. “Consequently, hurricane-force wind poses the major threat for the majority of the city.”
Reminded of a climate change-driven storm scenario FEMA presented in 2014 — in collaboration with the city — that projected a 34-foot storm surge that put downtown Houston underwater, Turner’s office provided a follow-up statement acknowledging that the issue “continues to be a concern.” It also placed the onus on the federal government to take the lead on a coastal barrier project.
A few months later, in August 2016, Turner wrote to state leaders studying the coastal barrier concept and said he supported it.
On Tuesday, Turner spoke passionately about the impact Hurricane Ike could have had — and the impact Harvey did have — on the region’s industrial complex and the national economy.
“When Hurricane Ike hit in 2008 there were $30 billion in damages,” he said. “If Ike had hit a little bit further to the [south] we could have lost refineries, jet fuel and the entire Houston Ship Channel, not only destroying the jobs of many Houstonians, but there would have been an impact on the nation as a whole.”
During Harvey, Turner said, “the Houston port did close and business was shut down and the country as a whole was impacted.”
“That was a tropical storm,” he added. “Can you imagine if Hurricane Harvey had come closer, what the devastating effects would be?”
Disclosure: The General Land Office was a corporate sponsor of The Texas Tribune in 2011. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.
The ex-husband of a 37-year-old Baytown woman appeared in court Tuesday after being charged with murder.
Officials said Steven McDowell, 44, was charged in the death of 37-year-old Crystal McDowell.
Prosecutors said Steven McDowell strangled Crystal McDowell while their children were in another room.
He appeared to be crying near the end of his court appearance.
Chambers County sheriff’s detectives and Texas Rangers said they found her body in a wooded area not far from her home. Officials said she was last seen in Baytown on Aug. 25. She had been missing for two weeks.
A Pizza Hut manager in Florida threatened to punish employees who missed shifts by evacuating too early for Hurricane Irma.
In a memo, the manager said workers at the Jacksonville restaurant have a “responsibility and commitment” to the community, and that employees who needed to evacuate would get only a 24-hour “grace period” before the storm.
“You cannot evacuate Friday for a Tuesday storm event!” the notice read. “Failure to show for these shifts, regardless of reason, will be considered a no call / no show and documentation will be issued.”
It also said that employees would be required to return to the city within 72 hours of an evacuation.
Pizza Hut said its “local franchise operator has addressed this situation with the manager involved.”
“We absolutely do not have a policy that dictates when team members can leave or return from a disaster, and the manager who posted this letter did not follow company guidelines,” the company said in a statement.
The company added that all stores in Irma’s path had been shuttered and wouldn’t reopen “until local authorities deem the area safe.”
Pizza Hut declined to say whether the manager involved has been disciplined.
Jacksonville authorities issued the first evacuation orders for parts of the city on Friday. On Monday, the sheriff’s office tweeted to people in evacuation zones: “Get out NOW.” Up to 4 feet of water covered some streets.
FEMA is advising people in the storm’s path to “only return home when local officials say it’s ok.”
The Pizza Hut notice spurred resentment on social media.
The metal sculptures are still there as you ease your way east on Highway 21 through Caldwell. You pass under a train trestle and look left on the upward slope as welded pieces of iron appear, at least a dozen looming over the highway in their rusty glory, fanciful and solid. I don’t know when I first saw them. It could’ve been in 1977, when I first was transported to Huntsville while chained to another man, or on any of the dozens of trips since — some driving myself, some handcuffed again. I don’t know whether the artworks anchored into the East Texas landscape induced terror or wonder. But they mark my memory, and seeing them as I drive with my brother to a relative’s graduation from Sam Houston State University (SHSU) in Huntsville soothes me. I am going home.
I crank down the windows to invite the warm breeze in. My brother complains and I ignore him, reveling in the freedom to operate my own window, my own seat, fiddle with the radio. I’ve loved driving long distances ever since my father and I drove from Dimmitt in the Texas Panhandle to Corpus Christi to visit his mother in Spohn Hospital the year I was 13. He coaxed me into driving his old GMC pickup at night and laughed himself silly as I swerved over moonlit roads, my feet confused between clutch and brake. I’ve driven from Austin to Albuquerque, the West Texas plains unwinding into the Sandias of New Mexico. The spring of 2009 a friend and I drove from Austin to Maine. I am never so intoxicated with life and possibility as when on the road, even when that road has led to prison.
I’ve spent 27 years in Texas prisons for robbery. Eleven of those years I was assigned to units in Huntsville, 11 years measured by count times and recreation, cleaning turnrows under the guns of mounted guards and entering data into prison computers in air-conditioned warehouses, increments measured and relieved by visits from my relatives and friends. I spent one year living in Huntsville after my second release, playing softball at Kate Barr Ross Park a month after watching games played under those lights while in prison, half a mile away and up the hill. I attended SHSU classes in prison and on campus, was the assistant editor for the prison paper, the Echo, and was editor for the Houstonian, the SHSU campus paper, while working at the Huntsville Item. I have lived longer within the city confines of Huntsville than anywhere else in Texas. I dream of Huntsville, its iron cages and magnificent woods, of screams echoing down bloody hallways and of the fowl in local parks that preen in the background of pictures I’ve taken with my only child.
There are dozens of country roads that bracket Huntsville, with names like Old Phelps Road and Possum Walk Loop, Moffett Springs Road and Tanglewood Drive. Some are starkly numbered — 75, 247 and 980, 2821 and 45. Every one of them is known to the correctional officers who drive the Bluebirds, the buses that fly into Huntsville from all over Texas, referred to as “the chain.” White and ugly, with the blue Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) logo on the side, TDCJ chain buses carry thousands of prisoners to and from Huntsville each year, either to the Byrd Unit for intake or to the Huntsville Unit, which we called the Walls, for release. Inside each bus are men and women straining to get a glimpse of the free world as it whizzes into history. As they peer through the wrought iron welded to the windows, they are bombarded by the boasts and unlikely claims of revenge, betrayal, heartbreak and hope that make up the majority of talk among those sent to live in Texas cages.
Three times I’ve left the Travis County Jail headed to Huntsville. At least a dozen other times, I’ve been on chain buses to Huntsville, transferred in from the Robertson or Hughes or Ellis units, and then transferred out again. In 2001, after articles I’d written for the Echo angered TDCJ officials, they closed the paper and applied what old-school guards still call “bus therapy,” sending me on a pointless journey as a form of punishment. I was shipped from Huntsville to Gatesville, then back to the Walls via Dalhart, Amarillo and Abilene: roughly 1,400 miles over three days.
There is no mystery or romance to prison, not to the iron or stink or violent hopelessness that seeps into its very air, and certainly not to the means of transport by which people arrive or are transferred between the 110 or so TDCJ units. You are handcuffed to another person whom you have never met, and you shuffle forward when you are called. You struggle with the cuffs as you both try to maneuver up the steps and onto the bus. It’s divided into three cages, the larger, middle one for general population sandwiched between a tiny one in the rear for an armed guard and a small one in front for administrative segregation. The seats are iron. There is a tiny toilet, not covered or shielded, and the stink is constant. Most try to sleep or dream about being anywhere but here.
Chain buses are not built for comfort but for utility, and accidents happen. The most deadly in Texas resulted in the deaths of 10 people, eight of them handcuffed and two of them transport officers on a bus that skidded off an icy West Texas road and hit a passing freight train in January 2015.
Still, despite all its cruelties, the 1,400-mile “bus therapy” meant to punish me had the opposite effect. I was away from cages and cacophony when on the chain, and I always accepted the discomfort of bus rides as a welcome respite from the numbing monotony of prison, the rocking bus and green countryside rejuvenating my spirit.
Transformation finds few footholds in steel. Life in a cage too often leads to self-pity, not self-improvement. People who are incarcerated understand and struggle with those truths. We seek spaces where the spirit does not recoil: a few moments in a library, a recreation yard quieted by the rain. For me it was the road; the fact that my wrists were bound by iron made little difference.
A decade after my last chain bus ride, the horizon at the end of an unspooling highway still beckons. I absently rub my wrists as the forest whizzes by, calmed, as always, by the possibilities of a Texas road.
There is no such thing as an “illegal knife” in Texas.
Dirks and daggers, stilettos and poniards, even machetes and swords can now legally be carried just about anywhere — even “down Congress Avenue,” said state Rep. John Frullo, R-Lubbock, the author of House Bill 1935, the law that made it so beginning Sept. 1.
HB 1935 effectively eliminates prohibitions on where certain knives can be carried by getting rid of the category of “illegal knives,” a designation critics called ambiguous. Under the new law, a smaller subset of newly dubbed “location restricted” knives will be prohibited in places like college buildings and bars.
Previously, knives with blades longer than five-and-a-half inches, as well as Bowie knives and a few other types, could not be legally carried outside the home. The new statute expands knife owners’ freedoms, advocates said, and also eliminates a great deal of confusion. Bowie knives, for example, were designated “illegal” under the previous law, but they were not legally defined.
Oversights like these made it difficult for knife owners to know whether they were in compliance with the law, “making criminals of people who had no intention of doing anything wrong,” Frullo said.
Todd Rathner, director of legislative affairs for the national organization Knife Rights, said the law’s significance stretches beyond practical concerns.
“Texans carry all kinds of knives for all kinds of purposes, whether it’s working on a ranch or opening envelopes in an office. So they want to be able to know that whatever knife they stick in their pocket or hang on their belt, that it’s legal,” Rathner said. “There’s also principle involved: In the United States of America, we have the Second Amendment right to bear arms — it doesn’t say ‘guns,’ it says ‘arms.’”
An amendment restricting knives in certain locations — beyond college campuses, certain knives are also prohibited from jails as well as from certain bars and hospitals — was added to the law in the wake of a deadly stabbing this May on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin. Police said junior biology major Kendrex White used a “large, Bowie-style hunting knife” to kill one fellow student, Harrison Brown, and wound three others. HB 1935 passed the House a week after the tragedy.
The measure faced very little opposition in either chamber.
“The safety concern here was too great for me to vote favorably on this legislation without more debate,” said state Rep. Ina Minjarez, D-San Antonio, one of only a handful of legislators who voted against the bill.
But Frullo said that the law does not increase danger, arguing that knife threats are most likely to come from individuals who weren’t following the laws anyway.
“Definitely, knives can be used as a weapon, but also they have a lot of other practical purposes,” Frullo said. “The fact of whether or not we have a law is not going to change whether somebody is doing something bad.”
Rathner said he aims to push in future sessions for legislation that would eliminate the location restrictions entirely.
Cliff Hill, a competitive knife thrower and the owner of an Austin knife-sharpening store, said changing this law doesn’t mean “that you’re going to see people walking around with swords hanging off their belt.” Instead, he said, it makes it easier for enthusiasts like him to pursue their hobbies without breaking the law.
For example, when Hill takes his collection of blades to a knife-throwing competition or to teach a knife-throwing class, he’s been “driving illegal.”
“I think it’s good in that sense,” he said. “If I’m on my way to teach a class, how am I not going to have throwing knives with me, you know?”
Disclosure: The University of Texas at Austin has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.
LA MARQUE— As hundreds of parents sat nervously in the La Marque High School auditorium last Thursday, Nicole Gardner stood from her seat and raised her hand to ask what was on everyone’s minds.
“I was wondering how long this relocation is going to last.”
The response was just as Gardner, the mother of a kindergarten and second-grade student, had feared.
“Unfortunately, we don’t know,” said Susan Myers, Texas City ISD deputy superintendent.
Gardner’s children are enrolled in two of three schools in Texas City ISD closed temporarily due to damage from Hurricane Harvey, pushing officials to relocate about 1,600 students to other buildings within the district, starting Monday. For parents and administrators of the three closed schools, the flooding means more disruption in a period already marked by upheaval.
In 2016, the state forced the Galveston Bay school district to annex, or absorb, its neighboring district, and once football rival, La Marque ISD, which was hemorrhaging enrolled students and failing to prepare those who stayed for graduation. For months, tensions were high with rumors swirling that outside forces had conspired to destroy La Marque’s schools. When school started last fall, people from both communities were nervous about how their hybrid district would work.
“This year, it feels like we’re redoing last year,” said Flo Adkins, principal of La Marque Middle School, as parents queued up around her to pick up their kids’ new building assignments Thursday evening. “You know, when the annexation and all that happened, it feels like there was so much anxiety in the community.”
The three buildings flooded due to Harvey all belonged to former La Marque ISD, where the newest school building was constructed 47 years ago. Texas City ISD was promised $17 million over five years from the state in June to improve its recently acquired, neglected facilities. In just a few days, Hurricane Harvey, slow-moving and destructive, knocked back the timeline for renovation.
“We got through last year with the annexation, we can get through anything,” Adkins said. She pulled out her phone and swiped through photos of Texas City teachers helping their La Marque colleagues fill boxes with school supplies Thursday morning. The storm will bring the district closer together, she said.
Hundreds of parents filled the La Marque High School auditorium Thursday evening, after two weeks of cancelled classes, to hear the plans district administrators had for where and how to relocate their students. They were terrified and unhappy.
Administrators made sure to stay cheery as they explained how students from three La Marque schools that cover preK through eighth grade would temporarily attend classes in other school buildings, starting Monday. All their teachers and principals would go with them. They would all get free meals, and new bus routes as needed. Teachers would work hard to get students academically on track. Students, including some who lost their homes in the storm, would finally have a routine again.
“Our teachers know right now our instruction has to be intentional and intensive,” said Ricky Nicholson, La Marque High School Principal. “We have to the stop the bleeding on the loss of instructional days.”
Gardner was trembling as she later lined up to get a copy of the map showing her where her children would temporarily attend school, miles away in Texas City. Her second grader is behind in math and reading, and now has missed two weeks of instruction. The family moved from Deer Park to La Marque, before the start of the new year. “I’m hoping it’ll be six weeks or something,” she said, estimating the length of the school closures. “I feel like it will be two or three months.”
The main priority, officials repeated over and over, was to keep La Marque students in Texas City ISD.
“We’re one big school district,” said Superintendent Rodney Cavness, new to Texas City this year, to the crowd of attentive parents. “Annexation, all that’s behind us.”
Not everyone was buying it. Monique Lazard planned to transfer her daughter Radiance Willson from Dickinson ISD to Texas City ISD this fall. When Lazard heard her 11-year-old would be studying in the same building as 17 and 18-year-olds, she immediately decided to re-enroll her in Dickinson ISD instead.
Already prone to letting water leak in, La Marque Middle School filled with two inches of water during last month’s hurricane. Those students will be relocated to La Marque High School, two miles away. Administrators promised to keep the two student bodies on different floors of the building, with no overlap, and to ensure teachers accompanied the fifth and sixth graders around the high school.
“Although they say they’re going to separate it, kids will be kids,” Lazard said. “Texas City can’t tell me there’s not other schools.”
She said she didn’t expect a better solution from the district. “Texas City and La Marque have always had their separation,” she said. “Even though it’s supposed to be one district now, there’s still a lot of separation. And it’s not good.”
Lazard and her children are still living in a home that filled with three feet of water over the course of the storm — among hundreds inundated in La Marque and Texas City. She was denied a hotel voucher through federal shelter assistance but she has filed for long-term federal disaster assistance while looking for a safer place to live.
Texas City ISD officials will soon submit a flood insurance claim for the damaged schools. They are also working with a FEMA consultant to apply for federal public assistance, along with all the other qualifying municipalities and institutions in 43 counties included in the federal disaster declaration.
Before the flood, La Marque buildings were safe, but not in good shape, projected to need $42 million for repairs and about $100 million for replacement. The state granted Texas City ISD $17 million over a five-year period in June to fix the buildings.
Meanwhile, Texas City ISD replaced and renovated the Texas City buildings in 2007, after its voters approved a $118 million bond referendum. Those buildings weathered the storm.
“All Texas City ISD students deserve the same educational experience,” said former Superintendent Cynthia Lusignolo, who lobbied the state for the $17 million this winter. That dream of equity is now even further away.
Heather Dummar toiled for three weeks last summer hanging sheets of corrugated metal from the walls and constructing long tables and stools to transform her eighth-grade English classroom in La Marque Middle School into an “industrial coffee shop.” She spent more than $1,000 of her own money to bring to life the calming environment she found at her local coffee shop in college.
“It was more than just slapping up posters,” she said.
It took her and a team of Texas City ISD teachers three hours last Thursday to pack up all the textbooks and pencils they would need to hold classes in a completely different building, as contractors in the middle school rip out soggy drywall and bleach the mold that had started to grow at the base of the chair legs.
None of the coffee shop’s decorations went with Dummar to La Marque High School. Her new temporary classroom was previously used for high school science and has laboratory tables attached to the walls. She went back to her middle school classroom to pack up books Thursday and saw some of the chalkboard paint peeling off the walls and the dirty water line two inches up the corrugated metal.
“That’s heartbreaking, because that’s our home,” she said.
Flooded cars are already starting to trickle off dealer lots, and that trickle could become a stream in the coming weeks, according to a local vehicle inspection company.
“We’ve inspected over 100 cars in the last three days, we’ve already found seven flood-damaged vehicles, new and used. But yes, they’re ending up back on the streets, back to consumers,” Shane Vaughn, president of Auto Exam, a pre-sale vehicle inspection company, said.
An estimated 500,000 vehicles are flood-damaged in the Houston area. About 30,000 of those vehicles have been towed to Royal Purple Raceway in Baytown.
The facility’s expansive outdoor acreage is serving as a waypoint for the vehicles before they are junked, and in some cases, auctioned.
Auto Exam and other companies are doing brisk business, inspecting cars brought in by potential buyers.
For a little more than $100, buyers get peace of mind in a sea of uncertainty.
Car shoppers can do some of the homework with these quick tips to identify potential flood cars:
Avoid cars with moisture trapped in headlights/taillights
Check under the seat, avoid cars with rusty seat rails
Pull up the carpet. Brittle carpet pad could mean the area was wet, then dried
Check the spare in the trunk. The spare “well” can hold water, even if the rest of the car is dry
Jeff Mateer and Matthew Kacsmaryk have worked to erode the firewall between church and state as lawyers for the First Liberty Institute, a Christian legal advocacy group that protects pastors who mobilize their flock to overturn local non-discrimination ordinances, county clerks who refuse to issue same-sex marriage licenses and anti-abortion centers that trick women into thinking they’re walking into actual medical clinics.
Trump’s nomination of the two religious-right legal activists to vacant federal judge seats in Texas has rattled LGBT rights groups, who call the appointments a gift to anti-LGBT activists.
“First Liberty Institute has used anti-LGBTQ policies to blatantly vilify our families and neighbors for two decades,” Equality Texas said in a Friday statement. “By nominating associates of this hate group, the president is using his office in an attempt to ensure policies will be created and spearheaded to advance anti-LGBTQ discrimination in employment, housing and places of business all under the guise of protecting religious liberties.”
Kathy Miller of Texas Freedom Network, which advocates for church-state separation, called the nominations “a clear signal that President Trump intends to make our federal courts the place where civil rights go to die.” Their nominations must still be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
Mateer and Kacsmaryk aren’t typical judicial nominees. In his eight years as president, Barack Obama appointed 12 lawyers to vacant federal benches in Texas, eight of whom had served as judges. The other four Obama appointees had lengthy careers as government lawyers in the federal courts, either as law clerks for federal appellate court judges or long stints with the U.S. Department of Justice. One served as White House legal counsel to Bill Clinton.
By contrast, Mateer, who Trump nominated to fill a vacant seat in the Eastern District of Texas, has no judicial experience and most of his work has been in private practice. Mateer made headlines last year when Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton made him the state’s first assistant attorney general. Critics such as Miller bristled that Mateer had publicly eschewed the notion of church-state separation. As he told students during a conference at the University of St. Thomas in 2013:
“I’ll hold up my hundred-dollar bill and say, ‘for the first student who can cite me the provision in the Constitution that guarantees the separation of church and state verbatim, I’ll give this hundred dollar bill. … It’s not there. … The protections of the First Amendment protect us from government, not to cause government to persecute us because of our religious beliefs.”
Before joining Paxton’s office, Mateer was First Liberty’s general counsel and executive vice president, representing people like Tom Brown, an El Paso bishop and founder of what the Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled an anti-gay hate group. A month after Paxton hired Mateer, the AG’s office filed a court brief supporting Brown in a lawsuit stemming from his attempts to overturn the city’s non-discrimination ordinance and recall local politicians who pushed for it.
In a statement Thursday, Paxton praised Mateer’s nomination, calling him a “principled leader” and “a man of character.”
Kacsmaryk, one of five lawyers Trump nominated to vacant federal benches in Texas this week, is currently deputy general counsel for First Liberty, according to the group’s website, and oversees its “policy advisory team.” Trump wants to appoint him to the Northern District of Texas,where, prior to joining First Liberty in 2013, he served as an assistant U.S. attorney mostly handling criminal appeals for five years.
First Liberty, formerly known as the Liberty Institute, is the Plano-based brainchild of Kelly Shackelford, who helped push for a statewide gay marriage ban in 2005 that was ultimately voided by the Supreme Court’s landmark marriage equality ruling a decade later.
After that high court ruling, as the Observer previously reported, Shackelford urged anti-gay Christians to shift their focus toward fighting for the “religious freedom” to, say, refuse to serve same-sex couples. “We’re going to shove that down their throat over and over again in all these cases,” Shackelford said.
If the Senate confirms Trump’s nominees, there’d be two Texas courts receptive to all that shoving.
The post Trump Nominates Lawyers from Anti-LGBT ‘Religious Freedom’ Group to be Texas Federal Judges appeared first on The Texas Observer.
A man survived being shot up to 16 times outside a home southwest Houston.
The shooting was reported around 9 p.m. Thursday. Police said 24-year-old Bryant Dobbins was standing outside a home in the 3800 block of Gouldburn when a man wearing a black bandana over his face approached and opened fire.
Dobbins was taken to Ben Taub hospital and listed in serious but stable condition. He is expected to survive.
The gunman got away before police arrived. No arrests were made.
Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call the HPD Major Assaults Unit at 713-308-3600 or Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.
Floridians began a mass exodus on Thursday as Hurricane Irma, the powerful Category 5 storm, plowed through the Caribbean toward the Sunshine State.
Thousands of cars headed north, causing interstate backups and slowdowns. Drivers waited for hours at gas stations, some of which ran out of fuel. Travelers stood in line for hours at airports.
Based on Irma’s projected path, which includes Florida’s heavily populated eastern coast, the enormous storm could create one of the largest mass evacuations in US history, CNN senior meteorologist Dave Hennen said. Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties combined have about 6 million people.
People should get out now, Gov. Rick Scott warned at a Thursday news conference. If they wait until Saturday or Sunday, when high winds and rain are expected to lash south Florida, it will be too late.
“We cannot save you when the storm starts,” Scott said. “So if you are in an evacuation zone and you need help, you need to tell us now.”
“You do not want to leave on Saturday, driving through Florida with tropical storm force winds,” CNN meteorologist Tom Sater said. He said the latest Floridians should evacuate is Friday morning.
‘Three lanes of red bumper lights’
Roseanne Lesack, her husband and three children were among the evacuees.
They left Boca Raton on Wednesday and headed to Atlanta to stay with friends, she said. After encountering slow traffic, the family spent the night at a motel in Orlando and continued north Thursday morning, Lesack said.
“What should have been another six or seven-hour travel experience is coming up on 12 hours,” she said Thursday night while about 35 miles south of Atlanta. “It has been slow. Right now we’re going about 20 mph. … It’s just three lanes of red bumper lights.”
Last year, the family stayed with friends in Florida and rode out Hurricane Matthew, she said. Lesack is glad they decided not to chance it this year.
“Now there are a lot of people who are really nervous about staying but don’t feel like they can get out,” Lesack said.
In Florida, mandatory evacuations orders included parts of Miami-Dade County, Broward County east of US 1, Palm Beach County, low-lying parts of Brevard County, and Monroe County, home to the Florida Keys. More than 30,000 people evacuated Monroe County alone, Scott said.
Monroe County Administrator Roman Gastesi stressed to residents in the Keys they need to heed the evacuation order and leave.
All hospitals would be closed and ambulances gone as of Friday morning, including air ambulances, he said.
“You might as well leave now, while you have a chance, because when you dial 911 — you will not get an answer,” he said.
The Florida Department of Transportation released traffic counts showing extremely heavy traffic on Thursday, such as 4,000 vehicles on I-75 northbound in Lake City, compared to a norm of 1,000. About 1,800 vehicles traveled on I-75 in Collier County, compared to a norm of 600. Other roads showed smaller increases.
Though nobody knows exactly where Irma will make landfall, the governors of Georgia and South Carolina decided not to take any chances. They ordered mandatory evacuations of low-lying coastal areas around Savannah and Charleston.
Other eastern Florida population centers could also see similar evacuations soon, depending on the path of the hurricane, which is expected to near Miami on Sunday.
“Look at the size of this storm,” Scott said Thursday. “It is wider than our entire state and could cause major and life-threatening impacts from coast to coast. Regardless of what coast you live on, be prepared to evacuate. Floridians on the west coast cannot be complacent.”
Finding more fuel
Fuel availability is a major problem. CNN’s Miguel Marquez said about half the gas stations were open in Miami.
At a Marathon gas station in Miami, a line of cars wrapped around the corner. Two police officers on duty kept drivers in line and police tape kept them from entering the station the wrong way. Drivers had to wait at least an hour for fuel.
In a news release, Scott said he’s taking steps to have more fuel delivered. Contractors have come up with 1.5 million gallons to deliver so far, he said. State police will escort fuel trucks heading to gas stations on evacuation routes.
About 300,000 barrels of fuel were being unloaded from a ship in Tampa to resupply gas stations. A fuel ship from Mississippi was heading to the Port of Tampa and will be given a military escort, he said.
Scott also said he is suspending toll collections for the duration of the storm.
Limited evacuation routes
One issue with a mass evacuation is that Florida relies on two primary highways that go north and south: I-95 along the east coast and I-75 further west. Those highways, as well as the Florida Turnpike, US-27 and other smaller roads that run north, will be “tremendously” clogged if the storm hits, Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida said.
“If this monster comes right up the peninsula of Florida, you’re gonna have a mass out-migration from the south to the north, and it’s gonna clog the roads something tremendously,” Nelson said. “Therefore, if you are going to evacuate, once the evacuation order is given, don’t wait around.”
An evacuation could lead to mileslong gridlock, as happened with attempted mass evacuations during Hurricane Floyd in 1999 and Hurricane Rita in 2005.
When Hurricane Harvey began threatening southeast Texas about two weeks ago, Houston officials decided not to issue voluntary or mandatory evacuations, partly because of memories of those problems.
Nowhere to hide
Hurricane Irma’s cone of potential landfall currently includes the entire state of Florida, meaning that residents may not be able to flee to the state’s Gulf Coast to avoid its wrath. Going north is the best choice.
Florida is relatively narrow. Fort Lauderdale on the east coast and Naples on the west coast are separated by just over 100 miles. Even in the central part of the state, only 130 miles separate Clearwater on the west coast from Melbourne on the east coast.
For comparison, tropical storm-force winds from Irma cover over 65,000 square miles — about the size of the entire state.
Hurricane Floyd’s traffic jam
Major evacuations have created significant problems in the past when millions of residents took the roads at the same time.
Florida saw this in 1999 during Hurricane Floyd. The storm was headed toward Jacksonville, in the northeast corner of the state, and officials there ordered evacuations. The storm ultimately turned farther north and made landfall in North Carolina.
In all, about 3 million people across Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina attempted to evacuate, making it the largest evacuation effort in US history, according to a FEMA press release from 2000.
Many of those evacuees became stuck in gridlock in what FEMA charitably described as a “frustrating effort.”
Mindful of past problems with mass evacuations, Houston officials last month told residents to hunker down in their homes until Hurricane Harvey passed. As the city flooded and residents became trapped in their waterlogged homes, Houston mayor Sylvester Turner defended his decision not to evacuate.
The alternative, he said, could have been worse.
“You literally cannot put 6.5 million people on the road,” Turner said last week. “If you think the situation right now is bad, you give an order to evacuate, you are creating a nightmare.”
Houston experienced that firsthand during Hurricane Rita in 2005, when officials issued mass evacuation orders.
During that evacuation, a bus carrying elderly evacuees caught fire and exploded, killing at least 24 people and jamming a major evacuation route. Others died during the evacuation due to heat exhaustion, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Airlines adding flights
For Floridians who don’t want to risk chaos on the highways, a flight out is another option.
Delta Air Lines said it has added flights out of Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Key West to Atlanta, its largest hub. The airline also is allowing passengers affected by Irma to rebook flights without paying a fee.
American Airlines and United Airlines also said they are waiving change fees for passengers whose travel plans are impacted by Irma.
However, American Airlines said it will wind down operations Friday afternoon at its Miami hub as well as other south Florida cities. Operations will be canceled throughout the weekend, the airline said.
U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Austin, is a leading contender to serve as the next homeland security chief and is interested in the position, a source close to the congressman tells the Tribune.
The news – first reported by Politico – could put the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee at the head of the department that oversees the federal emergency response to Hurricane Harvey , which affected the southeastern part of his sprawling Austin-to-Katy district.
But it would also, for a short time, leave the 10th District without a Congressional representative and advocate, although the Houston delegation spent most of Thursday touting its all-for-one-and-one-for-all mantra in the storm’s aftermath.
McCaul was also a leading contender for the post when President Trump first chose his cabinet, but the position went to John Kelly, who now serves as the president’s chief of staff.
In recent years, McCaul was a leading party spokesman on national security – particularly during terrorist attacks.
He also served as a top adviser to candidate Trump during the campaign and helped the president with debate preparation.
McCaul was also frequently mentioned last year as a potential primary challenger to U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, but most of that chatter died down by the beginning of the new year.
Should he be selected, McCaul would vacate his seat representing the predominantly Republican 10th District seat and a special election would take place over the coming months.
Back when McCaul was under cabinet consideration in late 2016, GOP operatives pointed to several local Republicans as potential candidates in a special election to replace him including state Rep. John Cyrier of Lockhart, oil and gas investor Brian Haley, Texas Public Policy Foundation board member Stacy Hock, state Rep. Jason Isaac of Dripping Springs and Austin-based communications consultant Jenifer Sarver.
A McCaul spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.
Disclosure: Jenifer Sarver and the Texas Public Policy Foundation have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.
Huge releases of hazardous air pollutants during Hurricane Harvey could’ve been prevented if companies had simply shut down their plants ahead of time or used more advanced emission controls, experts say. According to an Observer analysis, about 40 petrochemical companies along the Texas coast released 5.5 million pounds of pollution as a result of Harvey. Among the pollutants were carcinogens such as benzene and 1,3-butadiene as well as hydrogen sulfide, sulfur dioxide, volatile organic compounds and smog-forming nitrogen oxides.
The excess emissions were mainly a result of facilities shutting down and restarting their operations in preparation for the hurricane and accidents such as the fire at the Arkema plant and a floating roof covering a tank caving in due to heavy rains at an ExxonMobil refinery. In many cases, the pollution releases were preventable, according to environmental experts who reviewed the Observer’s analysis.
For one, companies could have shut down in advance of the hurricane. At least seven facilities that emitted about 1.8 million pounds of chemicals chose to shut down on or after August 27, the day after Harvey made landfall near Rockport.
“Shutting down earlier with a slower shut down leads to less air pollution releases,” said Shaye Wolf, the climate science director at the environmental group Center for Biological Diversity. “Shutting down during a storm is more dangerous for worker safety and flaring when there’s high winds is more difficult because you have to keep the flare lit.”
In other cases, the emissions could’ve been avoided if the facilities had installed new gas flaring technology, according to Wolf and Neil Carman, the clean air director at the Sierra Club and a former TCEQ inspector. Motivated in part by a 2015 EPA rule, many petrochemical plants have installed equipment to dramatically reduce toxic emissions from flaring. The rule’s implementation has been delayed till 2018.
Carman pointed out that of the 800 or so chemical facilities in Beaumont, Houston and Corpus Christi, only about 40 had reported excess emissions to TCEQ. “What that means is that there are ways to shut down without any extra air emissions,” said Carman.
The Observer’s analysis is based on about 80 initial emission reports filed by Houston, Beaumont and Corpus Christi companies with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) between August 24 and September 5.
The air pollutants from petrochemical facilities are “an additional toxic burden when people are already facing immense devastation,” said Wolf. Most of the pollutants that were released are respiratory irritants and can cause difficulty breathing and burning of the eyes and nose, Wolf said. Others such as benzene and toluene can cause developmental harms.
TCEQ did not respond to a request for comment.
It is unlikely that the facilities that reported emissions exceeding the amounts allowed by TCEQ will face any penalties. In the past, even in situations where a facility did not face a natural disaster, companies were able to claim exemptions on planned facility startups and shutdowns. Companies will also be able to fight any enforcement action from TCEQ if they can prove that a violation “was caused solely by an act of God, war, strike, riot, or other catastrophe.”
Still, Wolf and Carman said that TCEQ could incentivize petrochemical companies to reduce emissions through better enforcement. Penalties for not shutting down facilities ahead of the hurricane or failing to install flare technology could push petrochemical companies to be better prepared for future natural disasters, they said.
“The Gulf Coast region is going to keep getting hit and storms are becoming stronger because of climate change,” said Wolf. “The problem isn’t going away and regulatory agencies need to make sure that they’re implementing stricter rules.”
Elena Mejia Lutz contributed to this report.
The post Experts: Much of Harvey-Related Air Pollution was Preventable appeared first on The Texas Observer.
WASHINGTON – For at least a decade or so, Thursdays on Capitol Hill meant one thing: the Texas GOP delegation lunch.
Thanks to the size of the GOP House voting bloc from Texas, major policy can live or die over that weekly lunch. But on Thursday, weeks after a hurricane flooded large parts of Southeast Texas, the Texas Democrats joined the Republicans. The full delegation – 36 House members and two U.S. Senators – met over Mexican food to plot how they would leverage their seniority and size to advocate for Hurricane Harvey funding.
“There are many issues, but the point is that I want to make is that we are going to work together to make sure that we resolve this people issue and keep politics out of it,” U.S. Rep. Ted Poe, R-Humble, told reporters at a news conference organized by U.S. Rep. Gene Green, D-Houston.
As long as Republicans control the U.S. House and Senate, Texas is the most powerful delegation on the Hill – thanks to U.S. Sen. John Cornyn‘s position as Senate majority whip, the state’s seven U.S. House chairmen and four Texans – three Republicans and one Democrat – currently serving on the U.S. House Appropriations Committee.
The Texas delegation spent most of Thursday presenting a united, bipartisan front to the public and the message was clear: They are readying their legislative firepower to advocate for Hurricane Harvey-devastated parts of the state.
In the near term, the two chambers aim to get a short-term funding bill for Harvey relief to President Donald Trump, and then address a larger package once the gravity of the destruction is known.
On Wednesday, the House passed a bill that would fund nearly $8 billion in Harvey relief. But not long after the vote, party members were shocked to learn that Trump cut a deal with Democratic leaders to tie that emergency funding to other measures including raising the government’s debt limit and agreeing to fund the government past a Sept. 30 deadline.
Republicans were livid, charging that their party had just lost its leverage to push for budget cuts.
But the Senate moved forward on Thursday with the deal, voting to lift the debt ceiling, continuing to fund the government and actually doubling the short-term Harvey funding to $15.25 billion.
“This funding will serve as an initial first step towards helping Texans begin the process of rebuilding,” Cornyn said in a statement. “I’ll continue to work with federal, state, and local officials to ensure Texas gets the resources we need to recover from this devastating hurricane.”
Cruz called the marriage of Harvey relief to raising the debt ceiling and a continuing resolution to fund the government “unfortunate.”
“Historically, the CR and debt ceiling have proven to be the only effective leverage for meaningful spending reform, and I believe we should continue to use them as tools to reduce our long-term debt,” he said in a statement. I would have much preferred a clean Harvey relief bill—which would have passed both Houses nearly unanimously.”
Cornyn and Cruz spent part of the day at the delegation lunch, which was organized by U.S. Reps. Joe Barton, R-Ennis, and Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo. Together, the delegation spoke to Gov. Greg Abbott on a conference call.
Members emerged from the meeting with high spirits and a rare sense of bipartisanship.
“It’s a really big undertaking, but it’s not so large that we can’t do it if we remain Texas strong, Texas strong means Texans working together, we are doing it now, we intend to continue, and we intend to meet the challenge,” U.S. Rep. Al Green said at a news conference later in the day.
Cuellar indicated another delegation-wide meeting was on the docket next week, and he hoped for the practice to become a more regular habit.
Along with funding, Texas members said they plan to advocate for various policy goals amid the Harvey clean up. And even though the bipartisan sentiment was strong, some of the suggestions are sure to bring about dissent in the delegation:
U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Corpus Christi, prioritized rebuilding the infrastructure and clearing brush and debris.
U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston, advocated for ensuring FEMA will be staffed for the duration of the clean up, and provide adequate aide for small businesses to return to the region.
U.S. Rep. Ted Poe, R-Humble and U.S. Rep. John Culberson, R-Houston, hinted at pursuing a major infrastructure project in order to deal with Houston-area flood control. Poe, specifically, called for finding a way to direct flood water into the Gulf of Mexico.
U.S. Rep. Al Green, D-Houston advocated for housing aid through community development grants and an emphasis on removing trash from streets.
Green also suggested new legislation ought to ensure flood insurance premiums are low so people can get coverage after they rebuild. That will likely put him at odds with U.S. Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Dallas, who is the chairman of the U.S. House Financial Services Committee they both serve on, and has called for reforming the program.
U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady, R-The Woodlands is chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. He floated the notion of lifting tax penalties on retirement accounts if the money is used for hurricane rebuilding. His Democratic colleague on the committee, U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, called for tax cuts for the working poor victims of the storm.
Cuellar called on the Texas legislature – a body he once served in – to “look at tapping into the Rainy Day Fund,” a state savings account that holds about $10 billion. Cuellar, who serves on the powerful U.S. House Appropriations Committee, said he and his fellow Texas appropriators – Republican U.S. Reps. John Carter of Round Rock, Culberson and Kay Granger of Fort Worth, “are going to do everything we can to provide the funding” from the federal level as well.
U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio aimed for greater oversight of the environmental protection arms of the state and federal governments to ensure safe air and water in the region as the clean up continues.
U.S. Reps. Brian Babin, R-Woodville, Vicente Gonzalez, D-McAllen, Pete Olson, R-Sugar Land, Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Dallas, Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, Randy Weber, R-Friendswood, also attended the news conference. Every single member present spoke about a commitment to bipartisan unity.
But members of Congress often promise to set aside political differences in the wake of a crisis – whether it is a disaster like Hurricane Harvey or the September 11th terrorist attacks, or the shooting of colleagues, like former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona and current U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana.
And then, after a few weeks, the partisans return to their corners.
How can this be any different?
Olson and Gonzalez, a Republican and Democrat, walked away from the news conference together, headed to the House chamber for votes.
When asked if the bipartisan tone was new for the delegation, Olson said that the foundation already existed, but in a more subtle way.
Gonzalez added that his friendship with Olson is rooted in transportation – his commute to Washington goes through the Houston airports.
“We fly together,” he said.
“Nothing has changed. We’ve gotten closer, for sure, but we have the same bond that most states are jealous of,” Olson added.
Three Texas churches damaged in Hurricane Harvey are suing the Federal Emergency Management Agency, saying they should be eligible for disaster relief money even though they are religious institutions typically denied such funds.
The Harvest Family Church, the Hi-Way Tabernacle and the Rockport First Assembly of God were all damaged during Harvey, according to a lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court for Texas’s Southern District. The First Assembly of God lost its steeple, roof, and church van, while the other two churches were severely flooded. In addition, the Hi-Way Tabernacle serves as a FEMA staging center, sheltering up to 70 people and distributing more than 8,000 emergency meals.
Yet the churches will not be eligible for recovery money from FEMA, which “categorically excludes houses of worship from equal access to disaster relief grants because of their religious status,” according to the lawsuit, which asks the court to declare FEMA’s church exclusion policy unconstitutional and seeks an emergency injunction preventing its enforcement.
“The churches are not seeking special treatment; they are seeking a fair shake,” the lawsuit read. “And they need to know now whether they have any hope of counting on FEMA or whether they will continue to be excluded entirely from these FEMA programs.”
FEMA excludes buildings that provide “critical service” or “essential government services” from repair if more than half their space is used for religious programming, the suit said. Museums and zoos are eligible for relief, but churches are not.
“If the Churches were to cease all religious activity in their houses of worship, those buildings would become assistance-eligible,” the lawsuit read.
A spokesperson for FEMA declined to comment on pending litigation.
The lawsuit comes three months after the Supreme Court decided a church in Missouri could get government money to resurface its playground — a major religious liberty decision that has set the stage for similar cases, experts say.
“The consequence is, in all likelihood, a few extra scraped knees,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote in Trinity Lutheran v. Comer. “But the exclusion of Trinity Lutheran from a public benefit for which it is otherwise qualified, solely because it is a church, is odious to our Constitution all the same, and cannot stand.”
Diana Verm of Becket, a nonprofit Washington law firm that seeks to defend religious liberty, said the churches sued FEMA partly because of the Trinity case.
“This is a time of crisis in Houston,” she said. “Churches are some of the helpers, doing everything they can to get back on their feet. Yet they are denied the same relief other nonprofits are getting from FEMA.”
When FEMA provides money to communities stricken by natural disaster, not everyone can get it. For example, community centers “operated by a religious institution that provides secular activities” are eligible, according to the agency’s policy guide, but other religious institutions may not qualify.
Alex Luchenitser, the associate legal director for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, another nonprofit based in D.C., said the Trinity decision was not applicable to the church litigation. That decision allowed a church to get funding for a non-religious function, he said; the Texas churches are seeking money for “core facility” repair.
“We know a lot of people in Texas are suffering and we are sympathetic,” he said. “But the fact that something bad has happened does not justify a second wrong.” He added: “Taxpayers should not be forced to protect religious institutions that they don’t subscribe to.”
FEMA funds have been used to reimburse churches before. When money went to churches after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, officials said the decision was unprecedented, and some — including some of the faithful — questioned whether the funding was appropriate.
“The people have been so generous to give that for us to ask for reimbursement would be like gouging for gas,” the Rev. Flip Benham, the director of antiabortion group Operation Save America, said at the time. “That would be a crime against heaven.”
Founded more than 15 years ago, the 300-member Hi-Way Tabernacle in Cleveland worked with FEMA during Hurricanes Rita and Ike, the lawsuit said, and turned its gym into “a warehouse for the county” during Harvey. The church’s pastor said the Hi-Way would do the work anyway, but would like some help.
“The Tabernacle is here to help people,” Pastor Charles Stoker said in a statement. “If our own government can help us do that, that’d be great. And if not, we’re going to keep doing it. But I think that it’s wrong that our government treats us unfairly just because we’re Christians.”