Category Archives: Business

Senate Bill 4 impacts Hurricane Harvey’s victims

First responders, communities unprepared for ‘sanctuary city ban.’

Austin, Texas – On Friday, several bills will take effect amid the Hurricane Harvey rescue efforts. One of these bills is SB 4, the ‘sanctuary cities ban’ that allows law enforcement officers to ask people their immigration statuses during detainments and restricts their supervisors’ ability to direct the use of department resources.

State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez represents Southeast Austin’s HD-51 in the Texas House of Representatives. Austin is the capital of Texas and a major staging area for disaster relief and shelter efforts. Rep. Rodriguez also serves as policy chair of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, the oldest and largest Latino legislative caucus in the nation.

State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez issued the following statement regarding SB 4’s implementation:

“Experts are calling Hurricane Harvey a 1,000-year storm and estimate that the final price tag could reach $100 billion. More than 30,000 people have already been displaced by the storm as the rain continues to fall. It is likely to take years for Texas to recover from this historic natural disaster.

“Like many others, I am concerned that SB 4 will put innocent lives at risk and impede first responders’ heroic rescue efforts if it is allowed to take effect on Friday. Folks are afraid that they will be asked to show their papers and face deportation for seeking shelter from the storm, despite assurances to the contrary by FEMA, Governor Greg Abbott, and our city mayors.

“I hope that the U.S. District Court in San Antonio temporarily blocks SB 4’s implementation before Friday. If it does not, I call on our state’s leadership to issue a strong public statement directing local law enforcement to continue prioritizing disaster relief over immigration enforcement. People need to hear that they need not fear our first responders.

“Local law enforcement must not be held responsible for implementing SB 4 while they are busy saving lives. If postponing the law’s implementation saves just one life, it will have been worth it.”

At the Theatre: Front Porch Society plays at the Ensemble


By Dorris Ellis

The Houston Sun

Front Porch Society is now playing at the Ensemble Theatre through June 4. Setting in a delta county of Quittman, Mississippi in the city of Marks, seven families come-and-go to the front porches of two delta homes where ladies ages 95-50s bring the world to the audience.

The Ensemble’s Saturday night audience was delighted to become a part of the Front Porch Society’s amen corner, for they responded to the cast as if they were invited to participated. Directed by the Ensemble’s theatre Artistic Director, Eileen J. Morris, she took the Chicago playwright, Melda Beaty’s script and rapt a world premiere opening for the Houston market where it is bound to be a success. The time of the show’s setting is November 2008 on the front porch of Carrie Honey’s, home, played by Michelle Harrell, where the ladies discuss news and information and find solutions to problems as they provide hope and guidance to the old-and-young.

Yes, the content is serious, but this cast of professionals which included Jason E. Carmichael (Towner),  the mail carrier, brought much laughter to the audience with its suspense, drama, storytelling and comedy.

Moreover, this play shows a line of compassion for the elderly as the community took care of Miss Martha, the former educator and three-times widower, and it helped to heal the pain and hurt of the 41-years of suffering of Miss Honey.

Supporting cast were: Kendrick “Kayb” Brown (Terrance), the determined high school senior; Gwen Harris (Ms. Maratha), the glue that kept the conversation civil who sat on the porch daily, Rachel Hemphill Dickson (Sister Stallworth) the spirited first lady of the church, Dannette Mcelory-Davis, (Alberta) the connected traveler and Tamara Siler (Winnie) the superstitious loquacious neighbor. This lively cast will amuse Houston audiences as it will make them think, reflect and project into the future.

Recapture issue is on the ballot through May 6

Saturday, April 22nd the Harris County Democratic Party hosted an extremely informative Funding the Future Forum on the Houston Independent School District (HISD) Recapture ballot initiative at Thurgood Marshall School of Law. Please be aware that early voting starts today! Early Voting will be from April 24th until May 2nd and Election Day is May 6th.

The local branch of the NAACP in a statement said that voters in Houston are not accustomed to having May elections so please tell your friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers to go vote. Below is a link to the early voting locations as well as a link to HISD that gives additional information on the issue for your review.

Passage of Sanctuary Cities by Texas House is A declaration of Racism toward Latinos and a disaster for Texas economy

“It is incredible that Governor Abbott and Texas legislators Are trying to eliminate the ability of elected officials’ to decide what are the best policies for their respective communities. This is an encroachment on the local control of elected officials who campaigned and were elected on their policy ideas and agenda.

The idea of the governor to take away funds that are used to go after drug traffickers, gun runners, money launders, human traffickers, etc. from local law enforcement leaders will actually make Texas and the USA less safe! Especially when independent study after independent study has proven that the increased deportation efforts did not reduce the crime rate!

Comprehensive Immigration Reform with a pathway to citizenship remains the true solution to our illegal immigration problems.”

The ‘anti-sanctuary city’ bill passed on a party-line vote of 93-54.


Austin, Texas – Today, Senate Bill 4 passed to engrossment on a vote of 93-54 after close to 16 hours of impassioned testimony.

Members of the Texas House Democratic Caucus, Mexican American Legislative Caucus, and Texas Legislative Black Caucus proposed numerous improving amendments and raised multiple points of order against the bill, but the course of the debate was largely steered by the Republican Caucus and its overwhelming majority.

State Representative Eddie Rodriguez issued the following statement regarding the debate and vote:

“The young children who testified in opposition to SB 4 before the House Committee on State Affairs returned for today’s floor debate.

“They arrived in the early morning to share their heartfelt stories with members who support SB 4, trying to appeal to their humanity. The children were blatantly ignored.

“I understand that many Republican members face pressure to cast votes in violation of their consciences. Speaking with those children, though, you get a sense of the awesome responsibility that we have as elected members of the Texas House of Representatives.

“Placing one’s selfish interest in reelection ahead of doing the right thing is worse than a good-faith vote for SB 4.

“I feel scared, sad, confused and angry along with all immigrant children tonight. My colleagues voted to condemn them to a life of fear and uncertainty, to hiding in the shadows and dreading the day their parents don’t come home from work. Worse, my colleagues wouldn’t even give them the time of day.

“I’ve opposed SB 4 from the beginning, using my voice to advocate for local control over policing policy from my district in Austin to the national stage. I refuse to be civil or ‘agree to disagree’ on SB 4 because the stakes are much too high.”

Houston black realtors sponsor community housing expo

HOUSTON –  Black real estate professionals are geared up to focus the nation’s attention on building Black wealth through homeownership. Realtist Week, April 22-29, 2017, established by the National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB) in the early 1970s spotlights the important role Black homeownership plays in strengthening and stabilizing communities with a particular focus on the revitalization and desirability of the nation’s urban neighborhoods.

Throughout the country, NAREB’s local chapters are scheduling community events and activities that engage social, civic and business organizations, as well as the Black church community as part of NAREB’s focused effort to Build Black Wealth through Homeownership.  See attached Realtist Week agenda and Operations Red Day for Houston.

“NAREB has taken on the charge to encourage Black Americans to purchase homes as the first step toward building wealth. We have always aspired to be homeowners and live the American Dream.  Now is the time for us to turn that aspiration into reality; for ourselves, our families and for our future generations,” said Ron Cooper, NAREB president.

Black homeownership has been on a steady decline since 2004 when it reached its peak of nearly 50%.  Today, the Black homeownership rate hovers nationally, just below 42% compared to the non-Hispanic white homeownership rate of just above 72%.

“Our Realtist Week events in over 30 cities and more than 21 states demonstrates NAREB is at the forefront of Building Black Wealth Through Homeownership in the country,” stated Antoine M. Thompson, national executive director for NAREB.  Realtist Week also serves as a showcase for NAREB’s new 2 Million New Black Homeowners in 5 Years program initiated to reverse the wealth drain among Black Americans.

In Houston, Realtist Week activities heighten the community’s and policymakers’ awareness about the importance of affordable homeownership. Events started on last Saturday with “Walk The Talk” and Sunday with special church worship services and continue events at local schools, meetings with local officials, community service projects, and concluding on Saturday, April 29 with “Operation Red Day”, a community housing expo, being held at Good Hope Missionary Baptist Church from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm. Consumers can talk with financial education specialists; mortgage lenders; housing counselors; insurance experts, and representatives from local government to learn about first-time homebuyer and available down payment assistance programs.

For more detailed information about Realtist Week activities in Houston, call 713-551-2092 or . For more information on the Houston Black Real Estate Association contact the president, Kim Barnes-Henson at 713-742-2424 or We thank you in advance for your support and participation. We look forward to hearing from you.

ChallengeHER Conference coming to Houston

Opportunities for Women in Federal Contracting

 The SBA ChallengeHer conference is a free event designed to educate, empower and provide opportunities for women inFederal Contracting. It is scheduled for Tuesday, May 16th, at the Houston Community College – Southeast Campus, 6815 Rustic Street, Houston, Texas 77087. Registration begins at 8 a.m. with the sessions starting at 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“The federal government spends about $400 billion a year on goods and services and this conference is a great opportunity for women-owned small firms to learn how to access those contracting opportunities,” said Tim Jeffcoat, Houston District Director. Women business owners and aspiring women entrepreneurs are encouraged to attend the free conference.  For registration or event inquiries, please visit :

The ChallengeHER Conference will provide an opportunity for women-owned small business owners to learn:

  • From Federal Buyers about how to do business with specific agencies
  • From successful women-owned businesses
  • About the Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) set aside program and how to market your business using this set-aside
  • Networking with peer mentors and other WOSB firms working in your field
  • Techniques for Proposal writing
  • How to take advantage of Sources Sought offerings

The event is free to attend. Seating is limited so registration is highly encouraged by visiting:

For more information, contact Charles Abell, public-affairs specialist at 713-773-6512 or 

About the U.S. Small Business Administration

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) was created in 1953 and since January 13, 2012 has served as a Cabinet-level agency of the federal government to aid, counsel, assist and protect the interests of small business concerns, to preserve free competitive enterprise and to maintain and strengthen the overall economy of our nation.  The SBA helps Americans start, build and grow businesses.  Through an extensive network of field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations, the SBA delivers its services to people throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam.

Statement from Senator Borris Miles Regarding the UT Houston Land Purchase

“I respect the decision by the University of Texas System (UT) to not proceed with the development of a local campus on the 300 acres located in my Senatorial District. I met with UT administration and leadership several times, and questioned the recently-appointed regents regarding this purchase at their nomination hearing.

“My greatest concern regarding the UT land deal has always been about the nontransparent method by which the land was acquired and by the system’s inconsistent explanations for how the land was to be used. I am encouraged that UT listened to the voices of concern and decided to pull the plug on proceeding with the Houston development. I understand UT will now sell the land gradually to an entity or entities that will bring economic development and jobs to the surrounding community.

“UT has a very big stake in Senate District 13 and the greater Houston area, with MD Anderson Cancer Center and UT Health Science Center at Houston. UT’s success benefits all Texans, including Houston. In fact, the land in question lies in the heart of my district. But, there must be a methodical and inclusive process when decisions like this are made, especially when it affects our present universities. I look forward to continuing to work with UT System, the board of regents and Chairman William McRaven on ways to improve higher education in Texas and our community.”

City Pursues Strategies for Homeless, Panhandlers

Mayor Sylvester Turner on March 2nd announced what he termed  a more holistic approach to reducing homelessness and invited the community to help implement it.  The mayor’s plan involves expedited efforts to permanently house the homeless, more shelter beds, new public health and safety regulations and an anti-panhandling awareness campaign.

“Houston has achieved significant reductions in homelessness in recent years, but I am committed to doing even more,” said Mayor Turner.  “It is simply not acceptable for people to live on the streets; it is not good for them, and it is not good for the city.  We will tackle this complicated issue, and we will do it humanely with a meaningful approach that balances the needs of the homeless and the concerns of neighborhoods they impact.  We will need everyone’s patience and help to make it work.”

At the center of the mayor’s plan is expansion of The Way Home, the coordinated housing initiative of 100 public and private organizations that has reduced overall homelessness by 57 percent over the last five years.  Another 500 chronically homeless individuals will be placed in permanent supportive housing within six months.  Coupled with this aggressive goal, the community, often with direct city support, is continuing to invest in new permanent supportive housing units, but more apartments are still needed. The mayor is calling upon apartment owners and landlords with vacant units to step forward and be part of the solution.

Another 215 shelter beds will come online in August when the new Star of Hope campus on Reed Road is finished.  In addition, the city is pursuing creation of one or more secure and professionally managed covered outdoor spaces with restroom facilities where up to 75 individuals could stay temporarily.

“In this city, we are not going to abandon our most vulnerable,” said Turner.  “The goal is to get as many people as possible into permanent housing or shelters, but even with all of the assistance being offered, there will still be people who choose to stay on the streets.  It would be wrong to tell these people they cannot be here or there without providing a suitable alternative.  I am inviting the community and City Council to help identify locations in their districts we can use as temporary outdoor shelters and for feeding the hungry.”

The city will continue weekly cleanups of encampments to address health and safety concerns while the homeless are transitioning to shelters and permanent supportive housing. The Houston Police Department Homeless Outreach Team (HOT) is expanding so there can be increased interaction and assistance for the homeless. Another component is a new ordinance outlawing tents on public property.  This ordinance will prohibit people from putting up tents but will not make it illegal to sleep outdoors.  There will be a 30-day transition period during which HPD’s HOT team will work to compassionately redirect people in encampments to housing alternatives.

“This is a best practice across the nation and is based on public health and safety concerns,” said Turner.  “We cannot have people setting up tent cities where there are no restrooms or other accommodations to meet basic human needs.  Not only is it unsanitary, but it also deters from the goal of getting people into permanent supportive housing.”

The Texas Department of Transportation is assisting by installing “no camping” signs at freeway underpasses and is working to allow the city to have access to the underpasses for parking and economic development, an idea Mayor Turner has wanted to pursue since seeing something similar during last year’s trade mission to Mexico City.

The mayor’s plan also takes aim at panhandling with a new ordinance prohibiting obstruction of roadways and an anti-panhandling media campaign involving TV, radio, print and social media ads, street signage, billboards and a way to donate to service organizations via text and online giving.  The campaign, which is being funded by 15 management districts, urges residents to help bring about “meaningful change” by donating their “spare change” directly to organizations that provide services.  The public awareness campaign will be coupled with a pilot program to connect panhandlers to employment opportunities.  The signs and ads are expected to be up and running within a month.

The mayor noted that a lot of homeless have mental health issues and have repeatedly fallen through the cracks of the social service system.  He stressed the importance of increased funding for mental health and substance abuse treatment programs and said that he had directed this issue to be added to the city’s legislative priorities in Austin.

“Our existing programs and the expanded ones I have outlined lead all major cities in dealing with a nationwide problem,” said Turner.  “This is a realistic, holistic approach that provides meaningful solutions.  By offering multiple choices and a little bit of tough love, we hope to convince more of our street population to get off the streets.  This plan also provides strategies for easing the pressure in neighborhoods.  We will never totally eliminate homelessness, but with the entire community’s help, we can reduce it even more.”

Six years ago, Houston had a homeless population of more than 8,500.  Today, that number has dropped to around 3,600.  Less than one-third of these people are living on the streets.  The rest take advantage of shelter beds.