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From the Office of Council Member Mike Laster 

District Journal

Official Newsletter of Houston City Council District J

Friday, November 30, 2012 

Mike Laster - Flipped

City Hall Annex
900 Bagby

Houston, TX  77002

PO Box 1562
Houston, TX 77251-1562

Leah Olive-Nishioka
Communications Director

Matt Brollier
Constituent Servi
ces Director

Jeremy Brown
Agenda & Policy Director

Sharon Shanahan
Administrative Services Director

Community Links

Hurricane Season Resources

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District J Parks 

City Contacts 

HPD (non-emergency) 



Anti-Gang Office 



Mayor’s Citizens’ Assistance 832.393.0955


Department of Neighborhoods 832.393.1038


Health & Human Services  



Parks Department 



Public Works & Engineering 832.395.2511


Solid Waste Management 713.956.6589

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The Joy of the Holiday Season . . . 


As we move into December, 2012, the coming holiday season is fast upon us.  The fact that the residents of District J hail from every corner of the world and worship in many different ways gives us a variety of opportunities to wish our neighbors happy holiday greetings.  With an eye to the coming of Christmas, I look forward to attending the City of Houston’s Tree Lighting ceremony to be held this evening at City Hall.  As the lunar calendar happens to fall this year there are no Muslim holy days in the month of December this year.


Next Saturday, December 8th is a holiday for our Buddhist and Jewish friends.


Bodhi Day is the day that the Buddhist community remembers the enlightenment of the Buddha. The community celebrates the day with times of remembrance and meditation and homes are decorated with colored lights to commemorate the enlightenment.  Children particularly like to make cookies and family time is at a premium. 


Happy Bodhi Day to our Buddhist friends.


On that same day, the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah begins.  This eight day celebration – known as the “Festival of Lights” – commemorates the re-dedication of the Jewish Temple. As families gather to light a candle to be placed on the Hanukkah Menorah for each of the eight days, they remember the miracle of the how only one days’ supply of lamp oil was extended to provide eight days of light in the Temple.  Fun, family, gifts and food are hallmarks of this celebration.


Happy Hanukkah to our Jewish friends.


I find it fascinating how light figures so prominently in each of our coming holidays. If we think about it, perhaps we can find a lesson there for all of us.   I hope you join me in taking pleasure in the joy these holidays bring to our friends and neighbors.


Godspeed Jeremy Brown . . .


During this past year, many of you have had the occasion to meet Jeremy Brown, your Agenda & Policy Director for District J.  A Houston native, Jeremy graduated high school from HISD’s Booker T. Washington before attending Morehouse College in Atlanta.  He received his law degree from Oklahoma University and practiced law prior to joining the District J staff.  He has brought a depth of knowledge of Houston and a keen intellect to the job of helping the City formulate policies and ordinances that serve the needs of all of our diverse community.  Today we say farewell to our trusted colleague.  In the coming days, Jeremy will be assuming the position of District Director for Texas Senator Rodney Ellis, Senate District 13.  In that position he will assist Senator Ellis during the upcoming legislative session in Austin and will also take on constituent services for the district. I can’t thank him enough for all of his great work on behalf of the residents of District J.  I hope you will join me in wishing Godspeed to Jeremy.  


Mike Laster - signature 

– Mike Laster, Council Member – District J  

Mayor’s Holiday Celebration and Tree Lighting – November 30  


Ring in the season with the Mayor’s Holiday Celebration and Tree Lighting, presented by Reliant on Friday, November 30 in the heart of downtown Houston. The spectacular event is a holiday tradition of music, Santa, and family fun, with fireworks sponsored by Southwest Airlines. Seven-time Grammy Award winner, Dennis Edwards and The Temptations Review will headline the event with their legendary Motown sounds. A towering 63-foot White Fir Holiday Tree, glowing with energy efficient LED (light-emitting diode) lights, shimmering ornaments, and a stunning star topper will light up the streets of downtown Houston this holiday season. 


The event is free and open to the public. Brighten a child’s life, bring a new unwrapped toy to the Salvation Army booth at the event.


Parking available in the Theater District Parking Garage for $7.


Please click here for more information on this festive event.     

It’s raining acorns! 


Houstonians have noticed the unusual abundance of acorns this year.  Many have heard the tell-tale “ping!” of the nuts hitting cars and roofs, and a few have even been pelted as well.   

What’s going on?  It’s a masting year for the local oak trees!  Masting typically occurs every 4-7 years in oak trees, though they will also mast after a stressful year, such as a hard drought, flooding, or other extreme weather.  Last year’s drought may be a factor in this year’s abundance.  Many arborists theorize that the trees produce more acorns after stressful years to help ensure that even if many hungry critters eat their fill of acorns, there will still be plenty left to ensure seedlings. 

The Houston Chronicle’s local blogger, The Lazy Gardener, offers a great description of the phenomena.  And  Howard “The Dirt Doctor” Garrett posted some tips on planting acorns to increase seedling success if you are interested in growing your own magnificent oak tree. 

World AIDS Day – December 1 


World AIDS Day is held on December 1 each year and is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died. World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day and the first one was held in 1988.


Globally, an estimated 34 million people have HIV. More than 25 million people between 1981 and 2007 have died from the virus, making it one of the most destructive pandemics in history.


Today, many scientific advances have been made in HIV treatment, there are laws to protect people living with HIV, and we understand so much more about the condition. But despite this, people do not know the facts about how to protect themselves and others from HIV, and stigma and discrimination remain a reality for many people living with HIV. World AIDS Day is important as it reminds the public and government that HIV has not gone away – there is still a vital need to raise money, increase awareness, fight prejudice, and improve education.


For more information on World AIDS Day, HIV/AIDS, and how you can get involved in the fight, please visit


First Friday Movie Nights At Baker-Ripley Center  


Neighborhood Centers Inc.’s Baker-Ripley (6500 Rookin) hosts family movie night on their lawn every first Friday of the month.  The next showing is Friday, December 7, at 6:00 pm.   


December’s feature  film is “The Polar Express” (rated G), about a little boy who doubts the magic of Santa Claus and his adventure visiting the North Pole.


Movie Nights are free and open to the public.  NCI recommends bringing a blanket and lawn chairs.   


For more events at Baker-Ripley, please visit their Facebook page.   

Alief Garden Building – December 8  


The Alief Community Garden is looking for volunteers to assist with building the new children’s natural play garden on December 8.  If you are available to help for the whole day, or for just a few hours, please come.  This project is sponsored by Lowe’s.  Community service hours are available.

If you are interested in participating or would like more information, please email Barbara Quattro

Alief Toy Drive 


The Alief Community Association is hosting a toy drive benefiting children ages Pre-K though Middle School.  New, unwrapped toys may be delivered to the International Trade Center Room, 217 at the ACA office (11110 Bellaire Blvd) through December 4.   


The toys will be given away December 8 at the Hastings 9th Grade Center.   


For more information, please contact the Alief Community Association at 832-448-0530 or 832-651-3428. 

Comida Food Drive – District J Fiesta Participating 


Join the Houston Police Department in its 27th annual Comida/Food Drive and help feed less fortunate families during the holiday season. Since December 1985, when several HPD officers responded to a call for service and saw a family in need, the department has worked with its partners, Fiesta Mart and Pepsi Cola, to distribute food boxes to Houston’s under privileged families.

HPD’s Comida/Food Drive has grown significantly over two decades, and has become one of the largest food drives in Houston. During that first year approximately 600 families received a box of non-perishable food to feed a family of four. Last year, the drive provided 3,500 families with a box of food for the holidays. This growth has been the result of generous donors, along with the effort and support of sponsors and volunteers who have contributed both time and money to guarantee the success of the Comida/Food Drive.

Major corporate sponsors of the Comida/Food Drive are Fiesta Mart. Inc. and the Pepsi Bottling Company. The Houston Citizens’ Police Academy Alumni Association is also a valuable co-sponsor of the food drive and provides necessary support at the Fiesta Marts in the collection of food and money. Local inner city churches identify families for food distribution, as well as help in the collection of food, money, packing and loading of boxes for distribution.

New this year is the participation of the Houston Police Foundation which is providing support for those who wish to make a cash donation online with a credit card at: On-line donations can be made until December 1.

Additionally, citizens are also encouraged to visit one of the following Fiesta Mart locations to make a donation of cash or food.

The following Fiesta Marts will be collecting food and cash donations from noon to 8 p.m. on November 30 and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on December 1 and 2.


The 14 area Fiesta Stores are:

  • 2300 North Shepherd
  • 4711 Airline
  • 8320 FM 1960
  • 12201 East Freeway
  • 800 South Wayside
  • 1175 Edgebrook
  • 7510 Bellfort
  • 5600 Mykawa
  • 11240 Fondren
  • 8130 Kirby
  • 4200 San Jacinto
  • 6200 Bellaire – in District J
  • 12584 Westheimer
  • 10401 Jensen

For more information contact the Houston Police Department, Public Affairs at 713-308-3200 or visit  

Upcoming Events

Calendar2Please refer to the Community Events Calendar on our website for time, location and other event details

New events are added every week.  Be sure to check in often!


November 30

  • Mayor’s Holiday Celebration and Tree Lighting  
  • Alief Toy Drive (though 12/4) 

December 1

  • Braeburn Glen Christmas Potluck  
  • World AIDS Day 

December 3 

  • Braeburn Super Neighborhood Meeting 

December 4

  • Memorial Hermann – PaRC Special Event & Fundraiser  
  • Sharpstown Rotary Club  

December 5 

  • 2013 Super Neighborhood Action Plan (SNAP) Preparation Workshop
  • Urban Houston Framework Values Workshop
  • Watershed Sustainability Symposium 

December 6 

  • AARP Chapter 4418 Meeting 

December 7 

  • Baker-Ripley Movie Night – “Polar Express”  

December 8 

  • Alief Community Association Toy Drive Give Away  
  • Alief Community Garden Build Day  
  • Bodhi Day
  • Hannukah Begins

December 10

  • GSMD Business & Economic Development Committee Meeting
  • IMD Long Range Strategic Planning Committee Meeting

December 11

  • AARP Chapter 50 Meeting
  • International Business and Land Use Committee Meeting
  • Sharpstown Rotary Club

December 12

  • Baker-Ripley Posada 
  • Gulfton Area Service Provider Meeting

December 13

  • Asian Chamber of Commerce Luncheon
  • Braeburn Valley West Board Meeting