Tag Archives: Houston

Rep. Sylvester Turner announces candidacy for Mayor of Houston

State Rep. Sylvester Turner
State Rep. Sylvester Turner

During a private session with the Black Press, State Rep. Sylvester Turner announced his candidacy for the Mayor of Houston.

The meeting was informal but served as a informational address about his plans for a future mayoral race.

Education, road repair, transportation, economic mobility are his key campaign targets.

“We need programs for the kids,” said Turner. “We need summer programs and jobs for them.”

Rep. Turner is ready to expand his territory using the Prayer of Jabez as his catalyst.

“I want to place myself in a better position to serve others,” said Turner.

He wants to bring results to Houston. After 31 years in business within the city he is poised to facilitate a better relationship between the head of the city and the people.

“The Mayor is the CEO and has to be hands on and bring something to the table,” said Turner. “I understand the budgetary process, I want to be the type of man that is accessible.”

To all his constituents he expressed that he is not stepping away from them but expanding his territory to better serve them.

“When I’m in Austin, I’m usually working on city issues more than state issues. I’m just placing myself in a better position to serve.”

Better jobs,safer communities, roads, infrastructure and better city finance are a top priority for Turner while he steps up to take on his candidacy as Mayor.

This will be Turner’s last political office he will be seeking.

Check out the full story in the print edition of The Houston Sun.

MLK, Jr. statue donors, Ovide Duncantell receives ‘roses’

Ms. Randle and Ovide Duncantell after the Donors Ceremony
Ms. Randle and Ovide Duncantell after the Donors Ceremony

The Black Heritage Society hosted an official unveiling of donors and supporters at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Statue in Mac Gregor Park on Saturday, November 22, 2014. Although it was a way to acknowledge supporters, Ovide Duncantell was the star of the show and received his flowers while he can smell them.

Councilmember Dwight Boykins, District D, served as Master of Ceremony for the occasion. He is known for his praise of Duncantell and also told of his long history with him and his influence over his life. DeWayne Lark, President of the Harris County Council of Organizations also offered words in the same manner.

Ovide Duncantell
Ovide Duncantell

“Ovide Duncantell is selfless. This is about the friends that made this happen, but for me it is about a visionary and the fact of how many other visionaries are here inspiring,” said Lark.

Elected officials such as Constable May Walker, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, State Rep. Harold Dutton and State Rep. Ron Reynolds came out to give their gratitude to Duncantell for his leadership over the years.

Affectionately called a “Rebel Rouser”, Duncantell’s reputation for fighting for people of color earned him many praises and also led to the MLK statue in which everyone gathered at in the rain to celebrate.

“It is a distinct honor to have a token of appreciation,” said State Representative Ron Reynolds. “Thank you for being a trailblazer and being consistent over the years, you have sacrificed your time and we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you and the Black Heritage Society. It’s important to give you your flowers while you’re alive.”

His appreciation and thanks were given to Duncantell with a flag flown over the State Capitol on November 19th.

Duncantell was cited as the reason why many people began their political careers while paving the way for them. He planted the seed in them to become political, he was their inspiration.

Minister Robert Muhammad who also worked along Duncantell on the MLK statue had words of wisdom for the community about how elders are treated.

Minister Robert Muhammad
Minister Robert Muhammad

“This is Mr. Ovide Duncatell’s dream to have this statue, my job as an elder in training is to make sure that one of our elder’s dreams get fulfilled in his lifetime,” said Muhammad. “I get tired of passing around the bucket and the basket to bury our elders or to buy funeral programs for them when they paid the price for us to be standing where we are.”

He went on to credit the donors and supporters by saying, on this program the important people are the names on the back of the program. Those are the people whose names are on the plaques on the tree of life, along the chronology wall and down at the opening on the pathway leading to the statue.

“He is an icon in the community, he brought about something that none of us would have imagined,” said Muhammad. “The partners that are here, the corporate partners and the governmental partners would not have come to the table if it wasn’t for Mr. Duncantell’s will to get it done.”

The icon soon stepped up to receive his “flowers” and praise but in the fashion of Ovide Duncantell he reminded everyone of the struggle of the African American people in Houston. He also honored his friend Johnny Mata for his work alongside him over the years to improve the lives of all people of color.

“I believe in us having our own. We don’t need to wait for anyone else to give us power. When you are strong and united like a fist you can take power, they don’t give it away,” said Duncantell. “They said Dr. King name would never rise in this town. It took 30 years for us to get here. We took up the mantle.“

Although this was an event for the donors, those who gathered definitely acknowledged who paved the way for the event with all the gratitude they could muster.

DeWayne Lark, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and Councilmember Dwight Boykins, District D
DeWayne Lark, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and Councilmember Dwight Boykins, District D

“I pray that God will bless all of us to give people flowers while they live. I’m not naming a park or a street or an alley after Ovide Duncantell after he is dead. It was in my heart to make sure this got done so he could see and touch it, so we can give him his flowers while he lives,” said Minister Robert Muhammad.

Many kind words were given to Ovide Duncantell throughout the morning. His hard work has not gone unnoticed. The MLK statue is just a visible testament to Duncantell’s work and character. A promised fulfilled and a wonderful place of enjoyment for generations to come.

Bobby Seale, Co-Founder and Chairman of Black Panther Party talks history, progression 48 years later

Stephen Edwards, Chairman Bobby Seale, Jonina Abron Irvin  (standing) Kofi Taharka of NBUF
Stephen Edwards, Chairman Bobby Seale, Jonina Abron Irvin (standing) Kofi Taharka of NBUF

Black leather, big, beautiful, perfectly molded afros and strong Black men and women carrying huge Dirty Harry style guns is the impression that comes to mind when hearing the co- founder of the Black Panther Party is in Houston for the 48th annual anniversary of the organization.

Instead, three members, Co- Founder/Chairman Bobby Seale, Stephen Edwards of the Houston Chapter and Jonina Abron Irvin, the former Editor of the Black Panther Party Newspaper, who looked like normal grandparents sat before the press with bounds and bounds of stories and memories that were as captivating as an story grandma or grandpa could ever tell.

In 1966, Bobby Seale and Huey Newton recognized the disparities in the Black community of Oakland, California and the blatant racism. They grew tired but not weary. Instead of continuing to grumble they put their brains and muscle together to form one of the most influential and memorable organizations in the history of America.

Seale created a 10- point platform on the need for freedom and as a war on poverty. The party was formed on his birthday October 22, 1966. In the mid 60’s the country was amidst turbulent fighting for human civil rights and the anti-Vietnam movement, when a young Black college student with an aerospace engineering job inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. quit his job and began organizing for youth jobs in North Richmond.

Soon a small group of men began to meet and to learn the law. Memorizing and understanding the law was the niche that made the Black Panthers so dangerous because they knew what could and couldn’t be done under the law and they could stand on it. They began patrolling the police. They would stand the mandated distance away with their weapons and tape recorders observing their actions.

“The police jumps up to tell us you have no right to observe us and Huey began to state the law. The looked around like what kind of negroes are they,” said Seale?

By Huey Newton, the Minister of Defense, knowing the law, they captured the attention of the police and the people.

“The first year we had 50 members. We had people like Eldridge Cleaver and his wife Kathleen by May of 1967,” said Seale. “In the early days the Black Panthers were for self defense and even women wanted to join and carry guns.”

Seale believed to really create change Blacks had to be elected into “power seats”. In the 60’s when the Black Power phrase was popular there were 50 Blacks in office across America, said Seale. The only way to change the racist laws was to be in some type of position of power to create legislation.

Changing legislation was exactly what happened but not for the party. Politicians began to change the laws where they stopped the Panthers from carrying weapons.

“We were rising up and resisting,” said Seale. “They made the Jim Crow laws and it had to be enforced. Its one thing to holler Black Power this and that but power comes from the ability to make phenomena act is a desired manner. They will kill you and murder you about taking that power.”

The Panthers did amazing work within California that began to spread in Black communities all over the country. The breakfast program started and community support systems were flourishing.

“The reasons schools have free breakfast programs now is because of us,” said Jonina Abron Irvin, Former Editor of the Black Panther Newspaper. “J. Edgar Hoover called the program a threat. He understood the power of feeding hungry children.”

The next phase was to apply the original intent, which was to get the proper legislation passed. They tried to get referendums passed in three cities, Richmond, Oakland and San Francisco. San Francisco was the only city that received enough votes to get the Police Patrol Referendum on the ballot. It allowed for 3-5 community members who were duly elected to review and investigate police complaints.

The party began to dissolve by 1974 and Seale resigned from his seat as chairman. Political organizing mistakes, central community framework and mistakenly breaking down of chapters allowed for the dissolution of the Panthers after close to 10 years of service.

Seale passed down advice to the younger Black community that they should continue to run for political office.

“In 1960 there were 500,000 seats we (Blacks) could be elected to and we only had 50,” said Seale. “We couldn’t vote and it had to be changed and it was the reason we started the Black Panther Party. Now we have the Black Caucus and 42 power seats, we must keep those seat, its power.”

Seale went on to say that people don’t need guns in this day and age. They just need video cameras and an organizing mind and spirit. If the political seats can be gained and the community takes over the local government then a community can gain real control.

The Black Panther Party will celebrate their 48th Anniversary at the Communication Workers of America (CWA) Hall in downtown Houston on Friday, October 24, 2014 at 7:00 pm.

At Last, MLK, Jr. statue unveiled in Houston

Houston's First Martin Luther King, Jr. statue.
Houston’s First Martin Luther King, Jr. statue.

Thirty years later Ovide Duncantell’s promise to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s father came to pass on May 24th at Mac Gregor Park.

The unveiling was hosted by Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee. An array of elected officials paid homage but the main attraction came from Civil Rights elder, Rev. Lowery and Martin Luther King,III, who delivered the keynote address in honor of his parents.

The theme of the event circled around did Dr. King die in vain. The future generations progress and struggles also was a strong primary topic of speeches.

The MLK, Jr. Pavilion and statue is located at Mac Gregor Park at Mac Gregor and Calhoun.

This statue is the testament of the hard and diligent work of Ovide Duncantell, the Black Heritage Society and benefactor Attorney Benjamin Hall, III.

Southmore Station Spared, No Closure


Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee called a press conference at the Southmore Post Office Station at 4110 Almeda Rd. where she proudly announced along with community members turned super activist that the Southmore Station will be spared from closure.

The historical landmark brought the predominately African American community of Third Ward together as they fought side by side to save the post office from imminent closure. This is also a much needed win as rapid change has happened within the community within the past couple of years.

This struggle started in December of 2013 when the community learned of a public hearing during a City Council meeting. Real Estate Specialist for the USPS, Sandra Rybicki, delivered the shocking news to council members and Mayor Parker that six stations were under review for proposed closures: Southmore Station, Medical Center Station, University Station, Greenbriar Station, Julius Melcher Station and Memorial Park Station.

The Southmore Station received thousands and thousands of letters on behalf of its importance to the community of Third Ward/ Midtown and the city of Houston. Leaders such as Kofi Taharka of NBUF personally hand delivered the letters in Washington, D.C. to send a direct message that Southmore Station would not be an easy target.

Students from Texas Southern University under the leadership of Professor Serbino Sandifer- Walker diligently protested, marched, wrote letter and rallied for others to write letters to save their station.

With the good news delivered the Congresswoman and community members were all smiles yet they remained focused as to the lingering issues of the closures in the community schools.

Community members were reminded of the power they hold when they unite and fight together. Their united front saved Southmore Station from closure and preserved the historical legacy of the civil rights break through that happened right there on that property before the USPS decided to build a post office on the land.

Update: Houston at odds over non-discrimination equal opportunity ordinance

Houstonians protest equal opportunity ordinance
Houstonians protest equal opportunity ordinance

Wednesday, May 14th, the City Council body will vote on the non- discrimination equal opportunity ordinance, during their regular city council meeting at 9 am in council chambers.

The day before the Wednesday City Council meeting Councilmember Jerry Davis along with Mayor Parker decided to change the language of the ordinance in order to compromise with Houstonians who weren’t so receptive to the ordinance as is.

The section that states the businesses open to the public cannot deny a transgendered person entry to the restroom that is consistent with his or her gender identity caused controversial debates and even protest that had faith based leaders preaching on the steps of City Hall and community members singing Hallelujah loud enough outside to be heard inside on the second floor.

Taboo as the issue maybe it has brought out the worst fears in many who believe that the ordinance can be an opening for predators. Yet during Tuesday’s public session many Houstonians came up to support the ordinance saying it is not a safety issue but a safety issue.

“Have you ever heard of a man in a dress hurting anyone,” said Councilmember Ellen Cohen, who avidly supports the Mayor’s ordinance.

Laughter has been the tension breaker throughout many testimonials, pro and con. The ordinance has served many Houstonians already as it was a way for them to be vocal about the LGBT rights and a platform for those who were living in secrecy to come out and have support as Matthew Williams did during one public session.

Houstonians gather in City Council chambers in support of equal opportunity ordinance.
Houstonians gather in City Council chambers in support of equal opportunity ordinance.

Mayor Parker believes that the language has become a distraction from the essence of her ordinance which is to give civil rights protections to gender identities.

“People ought to have the right to have safe and public bathrooms… it is inhuman that someone who is transgender would have to search for a gender neutral bathroom. Who knew people would focus an issue on transgender use of bathroom,” said Mayor Parker.
Section A of the ordinance will be amended and will strike the paragraph of the ordinance that would allow transgendered persons entry into the restroom they identify with but the rest of the ordinance will stay the same.

They gender identity clause has overshadowed the other attributes of the ordinance for non- discrimination such as race and gender, which is a reason Councilmember Jerry Davis, District B, is such a strong advocate for the passing of the ordinance. His leadership and outspokenness is tied into his work towards bring contracts to minority business owners in the city. Even former Councilmember for District D, Jolanda Jones asked for the passing on the ordinance on the stance of racial and gender discrimination.

Councilmember at Large, C.O. Bradford tagged the item for it to revisited in two weeks so he and his colleagues examine the clauses A &B in the ordinance before voting. The language was changed just hours prior following the Tuesday session.

Houston first city in Texas to use Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds for Energy Efficiency Program

The City of Houston is the first city in Texas to use qualified energy conservation bonds for their energy efficiency program. The city will expand its municipal energy program to city libraries all over Houston.

“Earlier this month, I committed to reduce the City’s greenhouse gas emissions by ten percent by 2016,” said Mayor Annise Parker. “This project will go a long way toward helping the City reach that goal. Not only will we be saving energy, we will be saving money. It’s a double win for Houston.”

Funding will come from using Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds (QECBs). QECBs are federally-subsidized bonds that enable state, tribal and local government issuers to borrow money to fund a range of energy conservation projects at very low borrowing rates. Qualifying projects include using energy efficiency capital expenditures in public buildings that reduce energy consumption by at least 20%. The City of Houston is the first city in Texas to utilize this financing for energy efficiency, according to the Mayor’s Office.

“Too much energy is wasted through poor insulation, leaky windows, inefficient lighting, heating or cooling systems, and poor construction techniques,” said Luke Metzger, Director of Environment Texas. “We applaud Houston’s innovation in making city buildings more efficient, an important step toward solving our energy problems, reducing pollution and saving the city money.”

The QECBs provide the City of Houston low interest rates and the bonds have been awarded at an interest cost of below one percent.

“Many of the City’s buildings are using older, inefficient lighting, mechanical systems and control systems. This project phase will upgrade systems for 18 library facilities, the Dalton Street Property Maintenance facility and the Houston Emergency Center (HEC),” according to the Mayor’s Office. “Overall, these measures will reduce energy, water consumption and operating costs of City facilities. In addition, the energy savings are guaranteed by the performance contract.”

This is the City’s third phase of an energy savings performance contract for energy conservation measures with Schneider Electric. Numerous energy efficiency measures have been implemented to date including: Hurricane emergency power remediation/hardening of the City IT network at 611 Walker, Critical IT area HVAC replacement, City Hall lighting upgrade, Critical system replacements at SW Water Treatment Plant, Police command center reliability upgrades at 3 locations City-wide HVAC control systems upgrade to improve service response, Central plant upgrades in 8 major facilities.

2014 Great Texas Warrant Round Up


Hundreds of Law Enforcement Agencies Across Texas Unite For the 2014 Warrant Round Up

HOUSTON, Texas – The City of Houston’s Municipal Courts Department and Houston Police Department (HPD) will be among 300 law enforcement jurisdictions across Texas that will participate in the 2014 Great Texas Warrant Round-Up. For the 3rd year in a row, HPD will be assisted by the Texas Attorney General’s Fugitive Apprehension Unit to search for individuals with outstanding warrants beginning Saturday, March 1, 2014. Neighboring jurisdictions joining this statewide initiative as regional participants include, Harris, Galveston, Fort Bend, and Waller Counties. A complete list of regional participants is listed below.

“This is by far the largest concerted law enforcement effort in Texas,” said Director and Presiding Judge Barbara E. Hartle. “We do this program simultaneously with other jurisdictions to bring about greater public awareness, which will hopefully encourage someone to resolve their case or cases before they are arrested,” said Judge Hartle.

Once the Warrant Round-up period begins March 1st, HPD and other law enforcement agencies will aggressively target those defendants on the warrant list. Authorities warn that arrests can take place at any location, including the defendant’s home, school or workplace. Additionally, a special task force will focus solely on locating defendants with outstanding warrants through a license plate recognition program and whose parked vehicle has been documented multiple times at specific locations.

“With the assistance of law enforcement, we fully intend to use the entire scope of our resources, and we want to make everyone aware that ignoring your court matter is not an acceptable practice,” stated Judge Hartle. “The License Plate Recognition program has been in force since September of 2011 and has been extremely helpful in allowing us to locate scofflaws,” she added.

As the regional coordinator of this effort for the past eight years, the City of Houston Municipal Courts Department has thousands of active warrants it is seeking to clear. Municipal Courts officials are encouraging defendants to take advantage of the options available to resolve outstanding warrants. There will be no amnesty offered during the Warrant Round-Up effort.

Notices are being mailed to all Houston Municipal Court defendants with active warrants. Citizens with warrants in jurisdictions other than the City of Houston should contact those jurisdictions for information about how to clear those warrants. A complete list of participating regional partners can be found at www.houstontx.gov/courts.

For more information about warrants or citations visit the website at www.houstontx.gov/courts or contact City’s Helpline at 3-1-1 or 713-837-0311, if outside the City of Houston.

2014 Great Warrant Round-Up FAQ’s

Why are you doing this?

To close cases for which all other means of resolution have been unsuccessful.

Why do this now?

Statewide cooperation with other entities provides broader public awareness. Tax refund season creates better opportunity for some defendants to have the ability to pay their fines.

How many warrants are outstanding?

This number is not constant and changes all the time. In the month of January, in the City of Houston alone, there was an average of about 300,000 active warrants in the court’s system. Some defendants have multiple warrants.

How can I find out if I have warrants?

For Houston Municipal Court warrants, dial Houston’s Helpline at 3-1-1, visit the website at www.houstontx.gov/courts or visit any City of Houston Municipal Court location (see chart below). For information about warrants issued out of the Harris County Justice Courts, visit the Justice Court’s website at www.jp.hctx.net. For warrants issued out of surrounding municipal and justice courts, contact the Court in that particular jurisdiction for further information.

What are my options if I find out I do have warrants?

You may pay the fine and court costs, or post a bond and have your case(s) reset for a new court date. You may also seek legal advice from an attorney.

If I come to court to pay, will I be arrested?

No, defendants are encouraged to come in voluntarily to resolve cases during the Warrant Round-Up.

Will there be an amnesty offered to reduce the cost of any of the fines or fees?

Not at this time.

If I want to pay for my warrants, what are my payment options?

Payment options for warrants issued by the City of Houston Municipal Courts are as follows:
•ONLINE – www.houstontx.gov/courts/OnlineTicketPayments.html
•BY PHONE – Call 713.221.0288 (24 hour payment line)
•BY MAIL – Municipal Courts, P.O. Box 4996, Houston, TX 77210-4996
•WESTERN UNION (use code: Ticket Texas)
•IN PERSON – at any of the six court locations listed:





Herbert W. Gee
Municipal Courthouse
1400 Lubbock
Houston, TX 77002

Monday – Friday
8am to 10pm

8am to 4pm





Acres Homes/North Command Station
9455 West Montgomery
Houston, TX 77088

Monday – Friday
8am to 5pm


Clear Lake Sub-Station
2855 Bay Area Boulevard
Houston, TX 77058

8am to 5pm


Kingwood (Municipal Court Annex)
3915 Rustic Woods
Kingwood, Texas 77339-5203

7:30am to 4:30pm


Southeast Command Station
(Courts 13 & 14)
8300 Mykawa
Houston, TX 77048

Monday – Friday
8am to 5pm


Westside Command Station (Court 18)
3203 South Dairy Ashford
Houston, TX 77082-2320

NOTE: All courtrooms are closed Noon to 1 P.M.

Monday – Friday
8 am to 9pm


City of Houston to annex land

By: Myra Griffin
The Houston Sun

Within the next two years the city of Houston will annex land in two areas for general purposes. City Council voted unanimously to annex land east of the city limit line and west of the San Jacinto River and north of the Navigation District.

According to the Texas Local Government Code requires that the city identifies areas it intends to annex to be in compliance with the Annexation Plan.
“We annex on a routine basis and areas on the outside ask to be annexed,” said Mayor Parker.
Houston has a extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ) that is a five mile band around the city’s general- purpose boundaries.

“A general purpose annexation is most commonly used. The city must meet a public notification requirement. Upon annexation, all affected property becomes part of the general- purpose boundaries and is effectively subject to all regulations, taxes and services provided by the City. Residents within this property are residents of the City of Houston and have all the rights and responsibilities afforded thereby. Property considered for general – purpose annexation must be included in a City’s annexation plan at least three years prior to the annexation. One instance where the three- year requirement is waived is if the property owner requests annexation,” according to the City of Houston Annexation Plan 2014-2016.