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  November 5, 2012

City of Houston E-Newsletter

Table of Contents

Election Day is Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Remember to Vote
Bond Referendums and Charter Amendments at Bottom of Ballot
METRO, HISD and HCC also have Ballot Initiatives

In addition to the presidential, federal, state and local elections, at the bottom of the ballot are a number of important bond referendums and city charter amendments that need your input. Please be sure to cast your vote on all of the decisions that need to be made. Below is information about these matters.

Propositions A – E

These propositions comprise a city public improvement bond package totaling $410 million. This will not require a tax increase and it is the smallest request in more than 30 years.

Traditionally, the city goes to the voters with a bond proposal every five to six years. The last three referendums occurred in 1997, 2001 and 2006 and ranged from $545 million to $776 million. The city is asking for a new authorization to allow for continued maintenance and improvements at public facilities for the next five years. The needs include : roof and foundation repairs, new police and fire stations and improvements to parks, libraries, health, solid waste and recycling facilities. The specific funding categories are:

– $144 million for public safety improvements
– $166 for park facility improvements (this includes $100 million that will be
  matched by an equal amount of private funds)
– $ 63 million for public health, sanitation and essential general government
  improvements not covered by the other categories
– $ 28 million for library improvements
– $ 15 million of housing bonds that will be used to demolish blighted properties to
  make way for new affordable housing

Proposed City Charter Amendments

Proposition 1 will remove language in the city charter that is either out-of-date or superseded by state or federal law. These sections of the charter reflect a bygone era when less favorable treatment of the disabled was allowed, the city was responsible for operating and funding the public schools and had the power to set the price for certain goods, such as a gallon of milk.

Proposition 2 will modernize the process for recall, initiative and referendum by repealing out-of-date sections that do not recognize the city’s current election practices or the existence of single-member city council districts.

More information on the city ballot initiatives is available at

METRO, the Houston Independent School District (HISD) and Houston Community College (HCC) also have propositions on the ballot. Information on these three initiatives may be found at the following websites:

To determine your voting location, visit or call 713.755.6965.

“Houston Salutes American Heroes” Veterans Day Celebration
Sunday, November 11
Ceremony, AT&T Veterans Job Fair, Walgreens Veterans Health Fair and Parade

Veterans Day LogoOn Sunday, November 11, 2012, the City of Houston will show support for our armed forces at the annual “Houston Salutes American Heroes” Veterans Day Celebration. The festivities begin at 10 a.m. on the steps of City Hall, 901 Bagby, Houston 77002. Join our city in saluting those who have given of themselves to protect our freedom and liberties.

10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Third Annual AT&T Veterans Job Fair
Second Annual Walgreens Veterans Health Fair

11 a.m.
Moment of silence followed by the 11th hour ceremony in memory of the World War I Armistice signing

12:30 p.m.
American Heroes parade begins at Lamar and Bagby, proceeding north on Smith, east on Walker, south on Louisiana and ending at Dallas

Free parking is available from 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. in the Theater District Parking, Tranquillity Garage, 501 Rusk, Houston 77002. Due to construction, use only entrances #2 and #5. For more information visit

Houston Public Library Presents
Houston Grand Opera,
History Book Fair & Symposium and Community Cinema
Julia Ideson Building
550 McKinney, Houston 77002

Library LogoHouston Grand Opera “From My Mother’s Mother”
Wednesday, November 7, 2012, 6 p.m.

The Houston Public Library (HPL) welcomes the Houston Grand Opera (HGO) for a presentation of its new chamber opera “From My Mother’s Mother.” The chamber opera is part of HGO’s Song of Houston East + West series of new chamber operas celebrating Houston as a crossroads of Eastern and Western cultures. For the music, HGO engaged New York-based, Korean American composer Jeeyoung Kim, and for the libretto Janine Joseph, a doctoral candidate in the creative writing program at the University of Houston. The performance lasts about 30 minutes and is complemented by a brief presentation with the performers and people in Houston’s Korean community who inspired it.

Third Annual Houston History Book Fair & Symposium
Saturday, November 10, 2012, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

HPL, Houston Metropolitan Research Center, Houston Arts and Media and Story Sloane’s Gallery host the Third Annual Houston History Book Fair and Symposium. The event is the only free, comprehensive symposium event dedicated solely to the history of Southeast Texas. Door prizes will be awarded throughout the day.

Community Cinema “Solar Mamas”
Thursday, November 15, 2012, 6 p.m.

HPL in partnership with Houston’s Public Broadcasting System (PBS) Community Cinema Series and the Independent Television Service (ITVS), presents a sneak preview screening of “Solar Mamas.” The film focuses on women from Burkina Faso, Columbia, Guatemala and Kenya leaving their villages for the first time in their lives to participate in Barefoot College and learn to become solar-energy engineers. Community Cinema is presented locally by CultureMap, Documentary Alliance and Houston PBS/Channel 8, in collaboration with Independent Lens and ITVS.

All of the events will take place at the Julia Ideson Building, 550 McKinney, Houston 77002 and are free and open to the public. For more information visit or call 832.393.1313.

Tell Us About Your Community’s Needs!
Public Hearing Thursday, November 8

The City of Houston Housing and Community Development Department (HCDD) is seeking your input to guide the allocation of millions of dollars in Federal Entitlement Grants for the 2013 Annual Action Plan. The 2013 Action Plan prioritizes the funding of activities that serve low- and moderate-income Houstonians with affordable housing, single-family home repair, economic development, neighborhood facility improvements, homelessness and programs serving people with special needs.

There will be a Public Hearing on Thursday, November 8, 2012, 6 p.m., City Hall Annex, 900 Bagby, Houston 77002, where HCDD will be using new and innovative technology to conduct an interactive survey to determine your community’s greatest needs. You may also communicate your community’s needs by presenting comments on the record at the hearing.

If you are unable to attend the hearing, you are encouraged to send a letter to HCDD, 601 Sawyer, 4th Floor, Houston, TX 77007, Attention: Andrea Jones, Public Hearing Coordinator. You may also email your comments to [email protected]. Your letter or email must be received no later than Monday, November 12, 2012.

For questions, more information or to request special accommodations, contact Andrea Jones at [email protected] or 713.868.8300. To learn more about HCDD, visit

Celebrate City of Houston’s Fourth Annual Citizenship Week
November 11 – 17

Citizenship WeekMayor Annise Parker and the Citizenship Week Steering Committee invite you to take part in the City of Houston’s Fourth Annual Citizenship Week, Celebrating the Many Faces of Houston, November 11-17, 2012. The citywide celebration will feature a week of events highlighting what it means to be a citizen of Houston and encouraging citizens to be active in the community. For a calendar of events, visit the Citizenship Week official website,

The Office of International Communities (OIC), a division of the Department of Neighborhoods, is a major sponsor of Citizenship Week, in partnership with community organizations. To learn more about OIC, visit or call 832.393.1080.

Houston Business Solutions Center

Office of Business OpportunityThe Houston Business Solutions Center (HBSC) is the new home of the Office of Business Opportunity’s (OBO) small business development efforts. Located in the lobby of 611 Walker Street, Houston 77002, HBSC is open Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

HBSC helps small businesses secure City of Houston (COH) contracts through its innovative Hire Houston First program With Hire Houston First status a company can be officially designated as a city or local business, giving it a geographic preference in bidding on COH contracts. Additionally, in efforts to enhance certified companies, HBSC has a Business Development Manager, tasked with maximizing the award of COH contracts to certified minority, women-owned, disadvantaged and small businesses.

HBSC’s new and improved services include business resource guides, a revised free Getting Started Packet, free business workshops, SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) counseling and permit and license information. One quick call or visit provides information on city, county, state and federal regulations affecting your business. Upcoming business workshops are as follows:

Business Planning for Beginners
Monday, November 19, 2012, 6 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Central Library, 500 McKinney Street, Houston 77002

So You Want to Start a Food Business
Saturday, December 1, 2012, Noon – 2 p.m.
Oak Forest Library, 1349 West 43rd Street, Houston 77018

Tradition and Social Marketing for your Business
Saturday, December 10, 2012, 6 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Central Library, 500 McKinney Street, Houston 77002

Houston Business Licensing and Resources
Tuesday, January 15, 2012, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Houston Permitting Center, 1002 Washington Avenue, Houston 77002

For more information visit or call 832.393.0953. Follow OBO on Facebook ( and Twitter (

Fall and Winter Safety Tips from the Houston Fire Department
Especially Home Heating Safety

Fire Department LogoThe Houston Fire Department recommends the following safety tips when using supplemental heating sources:

Space Heaters Need Space
– Never leave children unattended in a room with a space heater
– Keep all combustible materials at least three feet from the heater
– Open face heaters should have a screen
– Provide ventilation to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning

Vented Gas / Fired Heating Appliances Tips – Central heating units, floor furnaces, recessed wall heaters and vented space heaters
– Get inspected annually by a qualified service technician. Don’t wait for cold weather!
– Do not use these units without a proper vent pipe that exhausts to the outside
– If your flame is not blue, it is not burning properly and is producing carbon monoxide, which
  can kill you. Turn off the appliance immediately
– There should be a cutoff valve for the heater at the wall
– Use flexible metal tubing (never rubber) with threaded ends to connect the heater to the gas
– Use soapy water to check all connections and valves for leaks. NEVER use a match to test
  for a gas leak!
– Look for the American Gas Association label and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations
  for proper usage

Electric Heaters
– Never overload outlets or breakers
– Never use extension cords for the heater. If the cord is hot to the touch, turn off the heater
  and unplug it!
– Permanently installed electric heaters should have lint and dust removed regularly. Lint and
  dust will burn!

Fireplace Safety from the National Fire Prevention Association
– Have your fireplace and chimney inspected and cleaned annually by a professional chimney
– Keep combustibles at least three feet away from a fireplace
– Create a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires
– Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room
– Never leave a fireplace fire unattended, particularly when children are present
– Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container, and kept at a safe distance
  from your home

Smoke Detectors Save Lives – It’s Just That Simple
If you need a smoke detector call 832.394.6633 or visit to schedule a smoke detector installation appointment. If you or someone you know is deaf or hard of hearing and needs a smoke detector, contact the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities at [email protected], 281.936.0770 or 713.284.1990.

Corral the Grease: Reducing Sewer Problems
Become a Grease Buster

Grease in PipesThe holiday season is here and that means spending a lot of time in the kitchen. But one common mistake many cooks make could be costly. Pouring cooking grease, fats and oils down the drain, toilets or sinks could have you spending time with a plumber instead of your family. Animal fats, greases and vegetable oils poured into drains solidify and clog pipes. Cooking grease can get as hard as concrete, causing sewage to back-up and overflow into streets, yards and storm ditches. The most practical way to reduce grease from kitchens is to follow some easy steps:

  • Take a minute to properly dispose of grease and other items that can clog your plumbing
  • Instead of throwing them away empty, consider using coffee cans, pet food cans, food jars, etc. that you already have in your home to collect your cooking oil or grease
  • Use oven roasting bags (sold in grocery stores) or foil lined bags to dispose of grease. Remember to dispose the containers in the trash
  • Remember, garbage disposals are not effective for disposing fats, oils and greases

Homeowners have the ultimate responsibility to maintain the sanitary sewer lines that run from their homes to where they connect to the city line. If a blockage is causing problems in a home and it is discovered to be in a city line, a crew will come out and clear the line. For more information on how you can reduce sewer line blockages, visit the “Corral the Grease” website at

Houston Police Department is Hiring

Police Department LogoThe Houston Police Department (HPD) is looking for men and women to join the force and serve the Houston community. Now is the time to apply for the upcoming 2013 cadet classes that will begin in February 2013 and June 2013.

Requirements and more information on how to become a Houston police officer may be found at or by calling the HPD Recruiting Unit at 713.308.1300.

Follow HPD on Twitter at and Facebook at for more updates on how to apply. To learn more about HPD, visit

BARC Finishes Strong in the ASPCA Rachael Ray $100K Challenge
No Plans to Slow Down in the Effort to Save More Animals

BARC LogoBARC Animal Shelter and Adoptions participated in the national American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) Rachael Ray $100K Challenge from August 1 – October 31, 2012, to save more animals than ever.

In just three months, BARC found permanent homes for more than 1,720 dogs and cats. BARC also saved numerous animals through returns-to-owner, transfers to rescue groups that resulted in adoptions and the Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program.

BARC encourages all Houstonians to stay involved in the effort to save more animals by adopting, volunteering or fostering at BARC. Visit and to stay updated on BARC’s latest news and upcoming events. View the latest weekly update video and other recent BARC videos at

Contact Taran Hutchins, BARC’s Adoptions Coordinator, at [email protected] with any questions.

Several New Flights Arriving at Hobby Airport

The Houston Airport System recently completed the $350 million renovation of William P. Hobby Airport that brought numerous improvements to the airport including a new lobby, ticket counter space, baggage claim area and more.

Southwest Airlines recently added two daily flights between Hobby and Indianapolis, Indiana, as well as daily flights between Hobby and Orange County, California. In April 2013, Southwest will begin seven weekly flights between Hobby and Charlotte, North Carolina, and between Hobby and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with more details coming soon.

Southwest is the only airline at Hobby to have direct flights available to all four cities. For more information on these new flights, visit

For more information on the Houston Airport System, visit

Houston Fire Department Operation Stocking Stuffer
Begins Tuesday, November 27

The 2012 Houston Fire Department (HFD) “Operation: Stocking Stuffer” toy drive is just around the corner. HFD and KPRC Local 2 are teaming up once again to bring some holiday joy to the hearts of local underprivileged children this season.

From November 27 through December 18, bring a new, unwrapped toy to any HFD Fire Station or any of our other toy collection locations. A list of toy collection locations will be available online beginning November 27, at or

Join your Houston firefighters and KPRC Local 2 to kick off the 2012 “Operation: Stocking Stuffer” toy drive on Tuesday, November 27, and take your donations to any HFD station. KPRC will be reporting live from HFD Fire Station 37 during their news broadcasts that day and there will be special treats for anyone dropping off new toys that morning at Station 37.

Toy Drive Kick Off
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
6 a.m. – 6 p.m.
HFD Fire Station 37
7026 Stella Link (just south of Bellaire Boulevard)
Houston 77025

For more information on how you, your business, neighborhood or place of worship can help, visit, email Paul Box HFD Public Affairs Office at [email protected] or call him at 832.394.6636. If you know someone who needs toys, call the toy drive hotline at 832.394.6632 for a recorded message concerning the “Great Toy Giveaway.” Note: Due to the tremendous demand for toys, clothing donations will not be accepted.

“Operation: Stocking Stuffer” benefits Community Outreach, Inc., Houston Hispanic Firefighters Local 341, The Professional Black Firefighters Association of Houston, Van TV (Vietnamese television) as well as other charities.

Stocking Stuffer Graphic

Houston Police Department Food Drive
Begins Thursday, November 29

Help the Houston Police Department (HPD) reach out and feed the less fortunate this holiday season. For the past 27 years, HPD has partnered with Fiesta Mart, Inc. and The Pepsi Bottling group to collect, package and distribute boxes of food to Houston’s underprivileged families. Last year, HPD was able to provide 3,500 boxes of food to places of worship for distribution to less fortunate families. HPD and its partners would like to do even more this year!

The following Fiesta Marts will be collecting food and cash donations on Thursday, November 29 and Friday, November 30, noon to 8 p.m. and on Saturday, December 1 and Sunday, December 2, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

  • 4711 Airline, Houston 77022
  • 6200 Bellaire, Houston 77081
  • 7510 Bellfort, Houston 77061
  • 12201 East Freeway, Houston 77015
  • 1175 Edgebrook, Houston 77034
  • 8320 FM 1960, Houston77070
  • 11240 Fondren, Houston 77096
  • 8130 Kirby, Houston 77054
  • 5600 Mykawa, Houston 77033
  • 2300 North Shepherd, Houston 77008
  • 4200 San Jacinto, Houston 77004
  • 800 South Wayside, Houston 77023
  • 12584 Westheimer, Houston 77077

For more information, contact HPD Community Services Division at 713.308.3200 or visit

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Mailing Address:  City of Houston | P.O. Box 1562 | Houston, Texas 77251
City Hall Address:  City of Houston | 901 Bagby | Houston, Texas 77002

Council Members: Helena Brown • Jerry Davis • Ellen R. Cohen • Wanda Adams • Mike Sullivan • Al Hoang • Oliver Pennington • Edward Gonzalez • James G. Rodriguez • Mike Laster • Larry V. Green • Stephen C. Costello • Andrew C. Burks, Jr. • Melissa Noriega • C.O. “Brad” Bradford • Jack Christie
Controller: Ronald C. Green