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Commissioner Ellis Applauds Appeals Court Ruling on Bail Case

Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis applauded a federal appeals court that ruled Wednesday the county’s wealth-based bail policy violates the Constitution because it jails misdemeanor defendants simply because they cannot pay money bail.

A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals largely ruled against Harris County in an appeal that the county brought in O’Donnell v. Harris County. In an opinion drafted by Judge Edith Brown Clement, the appellate court held, “We are satisfied that the court had sufficient evidence to conclude that Harris County’s use of secured bail violated equal protection.”

The panel also dismissed Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez from the lawsuit and directed U.S. District Judge Lee Rosenthal to craft a narrower injunction.  However, the appeals court judges held that the county must follow Judge Rosenthal’s injunctive procedures until she crafts new procedures that more directly address the constitutional violations.

“With this decision, the conservative 5th Circuit is telling Harris County that it’s unconstitutional to have two justice systems: one for the rich and one for the poor,” Commissioner Ellis said.  “Yet Harris County has already spent more than $5 million defending a morally and legally indefensible bail system that violates the Constitution and punishes people simply because they are poor. The ruling is a significant victory for justice and offers further proof that it is time for Harris County to settle this lawsuit and enact meaningful reforms that treat all people equally and fairly under the law.”

Judge Rosenthal entered a preliminary injunction against Harris County last April after finding that the county treats indigent misdemeanor defendants unequally solely because they cannot afford money bail.  She further found that Harris County’s pretrial detention procedures for misdemeanor cases lack due process because defendants are not informed of the significance of being able to afford money bail.  Her preliminary injunction required Sheriff Gonzalez to release indigent misdemeanor defendants within 24 hours of arrest if they could not afford to post a money bond.

The bail lawsuit was filed in May 2016 by Maranda Lynn O’Donnell, who spent more than two days in jail because she could not afford $2,500 bond after being arrested on charges of driving with an invalid license.  Her lawsuit was merged with another lawsuit filed by two misdemeanor defendants, Loetha Shanta McGruder and Robert Ryan Ford, who were locked up when they could not afford money bail.

Last year, Commissioner Ellis filed an amicus brief in Judge Rosenthal’s court that discussed Harris County’s history of discriminatory treatment of poor defendants of color and that agreed with the O’Donnell plaintiffs’ assertions that the bail scheme is unconstitutional.

In addition to Judge Clement, the three-judge panel that ruled on the county’s appeal also consisted of Edward Prado and Catharina Haynes.  The county now can seek permission for rehearing of its appeal by that panel or to have its appeal heard by all the judges on the 5th Circuit.  It also can seek permission to have the 5th Circuit’s decision reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Judge Rosenthal stated in her April order that she would schedule a trial on the merits of the lawsuit, but also warned that the plaintiffs have a great likelihood of winning that trial.  The trial is expected to be scheduled soon.

Commissioner Ellis stated, “With regard to the remedy, I am confident that once additional evidence has been presented, the federal courts will implement a bail system in Harris County that protects the constitutional rights of everyone.”

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Businesses Must Report Taxable Property By April 2

Houston — If you own a business and have tangible personal property used to produce income such as office equipment or inventory, you must report that property to the Harris County Appraisal District (HCAD) by April 2.

The deadline to file a rendition is usually April 1, but because that date falls on a Sunday this year, the deadline is extended until Monday, April 2.

HCAD is reminding all business owners that they must report personal property to the appraisal district by filing a rendition listing the property.  Personal property is tangible property that can be owned, but it does not include land or other structures attached to the land such as buildings or fences.  Examples of personal property include computers, desks, chairs, office supplies, business inventory, machinery and vehicles used to produce income, along with other items used in the business.

A rendition is a report that lists all the taxable property the business owner owned or controlled on January 1 of this year.  Owners do not have to render exempt property, such as church property with an approved religious exemption or an agriculture producer’s equipment used for farming.

Some renditions may be filed electronically using HCAD’s iFileTM system.  If a unique iFileTMnumber is printed on the rendition form below the account number, the owner may render online by going to www.hcad.org and clicking “iFile A Rendition.”    If no iFileTM number is printed on the rendition form, the owner will need to complete and file the form manually.

“The appraisal district may use the information submitted in the rendition to set business property values,” said Roland Altinger, chief appraiser.

If a rendition is not filed, filed late or not complete, a 10 percent penalty may be imposed.  Filing a fraudulent rendition carries a 50 percent penalty if found guilty.

Property owners who need more time to file their renditions may file a written request with the chief appraiser on or before April 2 to receive an automatic extension to May 1.  The chief appraiser may also grant an additional 15 days after the postponed deadline, for good cause.

The appraisal district has already mailed personal property rendition forms to businesses known to have been operating in Harris County during 2017.   However, all business owners are required to file renditions whether or not they have received notification.   A rendition form is available on the appraisal district’s website at www.hcad.org under the “Forms” tab along with information on the rules of the process.

For more information about rendering property, deadline extensions, penalties and rendition forms, taxpayers may call the appraisal district’s Information Center at 713.957.7800.

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Houston Black Real Estate Association celebrates the 50th Anniversary of Fair Housing Act during Its Annual “Realtist” Week, April 14 -21, 2018

 

Houston Realtists Focus on Growing Black Wealth Through Homeownership

Houston, Texas……… The Houston Black Real Estate Association, (HBREA) a local chapter of the National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB), the country’s oldest, minority real estate trade association is planning a week-long series of events, April 14-21, 2018 in observance of the trade association’s dedication to increasing Black wealth through homeownership. This year, the association celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the Fair Housing Act.

In 1968, NAREB were the catalysts in bringing forward the ultimate lawsuit against the United States government that resulted in legislation of the Fair Housing Act.  Without this Legislation, hundreds of Black families would still face the multitude of racism and discrimination. Culminating the 50th Anniversary, Realtists will meet with policymakers and elected officials to ensure that affordable and sustainable homeownership is supported legislatively, through regulatory or other city planning means.

HBREA chapter president Kimberley Barnes-Henson says, “Our efforts will seek to educate and inspire the public about the never-ending struggle for equality, Democracy in Housing, and NAREB/HBREA role in the landmark effort. We fully understand de-facto desegregation and institutional racism remains a pervasive problem throughout the United States. Thus, as we illuminate the accomplishments of the last 50th years, we ask everyone to join in our current efforts to increase Black homeownership, and improve social and economic conditions for all disenfranchised people.”

Homeownership for Black Americans has been on a steady decline since 2004 when it reached its peak of nearly 50%.  As of the fourth quarter ending 2017 as reported by the U.S. Census Bureau, the Black homeownership rate hovered nationally at 42.1% compared to the non-Hispanic White homeownership rate of just above 72.7%”.

As a result of these staggering numbers of Black homeownership “Realtist“ Week was created to combat the differences.  President Barnes-Henson further says, “Realists” Week events and activities raise awareness that Black homeownership not only strengthens the economic fabric of our city, but also increases the desirability of Houston’s many neighborhoods”.

For more information regarding sponsorship and participation, contact HBREA, 713-551-2092.  For media inquiry and to set-up interviews, contact Foston International, 866-922-2544 or jfoston@fostoninternational.com.

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Koch Foundation funds new TSU Center for Justice Research

TSU Provost Kendall Harris, Ph.D.; Oliver Bell, TSU Board of Regents; Dr. Howard Henderson, TSU President Austin A. Lane, Gerard Robinson, Dr. Harry Williams, Houston District Attorney Kim Ogg, Dr. John Hardin, Charles Koch Foundation.

(l-r) TSU Provost Kendall Harris, Ph.D.; Oliver Bell, TSU Board of Regents; Dr. Howard Henderson, TSU President Austin A. Lane, Gerard Robinson, Center for Advancing Opportunity; Dr. Harry Williams,Thurgood Marshall College Fund; Houston District Attorney Kim Ogg, Dr. John Hardin, Charles Koch Foundation.

 

HOUSTON (January 22, 2018) – Texas Southern University (TSU) announced the establishment of the Center for Justice Research (CJR), a new initiative designed to produce innovative solutions to criminal justice reform and address challenges in America’s criminal justice system. TSU was awarded $2.7 million by the Center for Advancing Opportunity, an initiative supported by funding from the Charles Koch Foundation and Koch Industries to the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.

The primary focus for the Texas Southern University Center for Justice Research (CJR) will be to produce innovative solutions to reform efforts by utilizing an experienced group of researchers working to understand and address the current challenges of the U.S. criminal justice system.

“The Center for Justice Research represents a new direction for Texas Southern and will strengthen our commitment to equal justice for all citizens,” said TSU President Austin A. Lane. “TSU is elated to receive strong support for the Center from the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and the Charles Koch Foundation, forming a critical partnership to advance knowledge through our faculty and evidence-based research, and in turn, care for our fragile communities.”

CJR’s mission is to change the paradigm of how historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) address criminal justice reform by developing objective, evidence-based research. The goal is to develop and disseminate interdisciplinary criminal justice research to dismantle barriers faced by American citizens in fragile communities. The Center will be an incubator for policy-driven criminal justice research support, increase the research capacity of HBCU faculty in the field, and train and mentor graduate students interested in addressing issues surrounding mass incarceration.

Howard Henderson, Ph.D., professor of Administration of Justice in TSU’s Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs, will serve as the Center’s director.

John Hardin, Ph.D., director of university relations at the Charles Koch Foundation, said that more Americans are incarcerated than have a college degree. Hardin said that the Foundation is concerned that the criminal justice system has more impact on the community than the educational system and also has a greater ability to destroy lives.

“Research is required to ensure that the criminal justice system in this country is one that treats all people equally and with dignity so that citizens can live a fulfilling life,” Dr. Hardin said. “We are proud to be a part of a partnership supporting such critical, academic pursuits.”

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-18th District) said, “Our criminal justice system is deeply flawed and perversely inhumane support for reform spans the ideological spectrum, and this grant to TSU’s Center for Justice Research will help to enhance efforts to ensure that all of us receive equal treatment under the law.”

Jackson Lee, a senior member of the House Committee on Judiciary and Homeland Security and a strong advocate for justice reform, spoke via speakerphone in support of the initiative. She said that African Americans and other people of color are heavily incarcerated due to a disparate system, but that research and science are the tools to resolve criminal justice problems.

“TSU is an appropriate place for this commitment because it is the people’s university. It costs more than $32,000 to incarcerate people and more women are being incarcerated, so there is a crucial need for this grant,” Jackson-Lee said.

Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said, “Incarceration is the end of opportunity for many people, but this grant is setting the stage for a new era in criminal justice. We need a common-sense approach to avoid recidivism and address problems with mental illness and addiction in the community.”

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TSU’s Office of Continuing Education launches the Atty. Ricky Anderson Entertainment Law Institute

 

The Office of Continuing Education has increased its online certificate programming with the addition of the Attorney Ricky Anderson Entertainment Law Institute Virtual Campus (ARAELI). The institute’s e-learning certificates are designed to prepare students and lifelong learners for today’s competitive global entertainment and media marketplace.

ARAELI is a customized, self-paced program. Featured courses include artist promotion and representation management, music publishing, production and distribution, recording, performance agreements, merchandising, touring film and television agreements, and “Music in Cyberspace”.

“Texas Southern University is committed to supporting and exceeding the changing needs of our students due to the steady growth of online education and degree programs,” said TSU President Austin Lane. “Full online degree programs provide more flexibility in achieving a college education for our diverse community of learners.”

“With online education rapidly developing and the number of online educational programs increasing, Texas Southern University is committed to supporting and exceeding the current needs of our full-time and part-time students,” said Attorney Ricky Anderson. “The fully online certificate programs provide even more flexibility in achieving an advanced education for our diverse community of learners.”

Enrollment for ARAELI began on January 26, 2018. The programs are taught by experienced faculty and will be delivered through a virtual campus learning management system for online, blended and web-enhanced courses. The Attorney Ricky Anderson Entertainment Law Institute is an educational partner with Aperion Global Institute.

Courses are available 24-hours a day, year-round through a self-paced e-learning licensed technology platform. ARAELI offers a flexible and accelerated online learning process for students and lifelong learners, within and outside the State of Texas.

Click here for a full listing of ARAELI programs and courses.

About ARAELI

The Attorney Ricky Anderson Entertainment Law Institute is an educational experience with prep tools for a career in the Entertainment Industry.  And for the novice, it’s an introduction to creative concepts for those with an interest in learning introductory information regarding the Entertainment Industry. https://www.atty-raeli.com

 

About Texas Southern University Office of Continuing Education

The Office of Continuing Education is Texas Southern University’s administrative unit for essentially delivering non-credit courses, but we also offer courses for college credit through our Weekend College for non-traditional students seeking a degree. More specifically, our unit is designed to meet identifiable community needs in lifelong learning and professional development by providing educational opportunities for all qualifying individuals.

Attorney Ricky Anderson Entertainment Law Institute™ is in partnership with Aperion Global Institute™

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Hurricane Harvey Photos

If you have great photos of Hurricane Harvey, share them with the Houston Sun and we will publish them and give you photo credit.

Send photos and include the title, place, and a description of what is happening. Send to: sunphotos@houstonsun.com. Include your name, address, and phone number.

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FEMA Claims Link

The link below is for Houston Sun’s readers’ use. If you have been impacted by Hurricane Harvey, this link should be beneficial.

https://www.fema.gov/apply-assistance

Since 1983, The Houston Sun brings you new and information that you can use and trust.

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Houston League sets up Harvey Care Fund, requests donations

Responding to the devastation of the epic and historic Hurricane Harvey, the Houston League of BUsiness and Professional Women, Inc in collaboration with The Houston Sun has established a three tier HLBPW Harvey Care Initiative. To that end, the Houston League during the conference call explored the following:

  1. Ways to Support and Engage is Hurricane Harvey Welfare, Safety, and Care Actions
  2. Establish an Official Fundraiser Process for Hurricane Harvey Donations
  3. Collection and Delivery of Supplies for residents impacted by Hurricane Harvey.

It was decided to implement the above three initiatives and call upon all members, friends, organizations, the general public, and partners to support those impacted by Hurricane Harvey.

a.    Collect, organize, label, bag your supplies, books, toys, games,  and deliver them to the Sun or prepared to caravan to the George R. Brown or an official shelter. Organize Clothing items by size, gender; items for children, and babies. Place items in separate labeled bags and deliver to the Houston Sun, 1520 Isabella St. 77004 beginning Wednesday-Friday, from 4-6 PM,  providing it is safe for you to travel. Used clothing should be gently used and clean.

b.    Participate in the  Houston League’s Care Initiative by emailing and posting to your social media Send donors to:hlbpwharveycare@gmail.com to make contributions using PayPal. Those contributions will be distributed as follows: First, Impacted African American Small Business; secondly, Texas Southern University Beta PSI and thirdly, Family with Children.   “All funds are tax deductible and will go to businesses and families that have been vetted by the Houston League of BPW,” said Dorris Ellis, Publisher Editor of the Houston Sun and President of the Houston League of Business and Professional Women, Inc.

About the Houston League

The Houston League was organized in 1964 by Mrs. Luellia W. Harrsion as an affiliate of the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, Inc. Its purpose is to:

  • To promote and protect the interest of business and professional women; to create good fellowship among them;
  • To direct the interest of Business and Professional Women toward united action for improved social and civic conditions;
  • To recognize achievements of business and professional women and to preserve the history of these achievements, that all people may be informed and that our young people may know their heritage and be inspired,
  • To develop youth through leadership, and

 To seek and create job opportunities.

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Kaepernick takes Sankofa trip

 

Colin Kaepernick (left) and Marquise Godwin (right)  on recent trip to Africa
Map of Ghana

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paul Cuffee Spearheaded First Back to Africa MovemenMaat Andrews

 

Maat Andrews

The Houston Sun

Colin Kaepernick took to social media this Fourth of July announcing his visits to different African locations. Kaepernick’s hajj places him in great and interesting company.  He is not alone.

From within the seared hearts of the descendants of African-American slaves comes a burning desire to return to a time and most definitely a place of idyllic uninterrupted, uncolonized independence and autonomy.  Some choose to make the journey over water and land to a generalized state of Africa, a sojourn made popular when then-named Malcolm X went on a trek through several countries on the continent of Africa, changed his name yet again to reflect the spiritual transformations he experienced.

Seen now through the eyes of former San Francisco 49er quarterback and now free agent Colin Kaepernick, this journey, also popularized by the young Jackson-Five brothers in the 1970’s, during the height of their fame, did not begin with this first mass unfettered economic and intellectual generation with enough funds and knowledge to go actually go there in large numbers.

The yearning perhaps never died, as reflected in the re-occurring Back-to-Africa movements, the most recent large one energized by Marcus Garvey’s Twentieth Century UNIA movement, which had nation-wide grassroots participation.  The movement spurred at least 12 units in Louisiana even.

In the 1800’s the first Back-to-Africa movement (of historical note) was spearheaded by Paul Cuffee, who repatriated about 60 persons to Sierra Leone. Cuffee once protested to President James Madison when his ship was caught in an international conflict between the United States and England.  Cuffee’s ship had recently returned from Sierra Leone and was suspected of violating American embargoes against goods and supplies from the British, then colonizer of that West African country.

During the 20th Century, many waves of African-Americans went to Africa, mostly countries on the West coast, in search of meaning and spiritual solace.  Entire communities in various countries, especially Ghana, greet the more recent race-worn souls, such as Kaepernick, whose quests lead them to these locations.

One influential thinker in African-American ideas and philosophies, W. E.B. Dubois, Souls of Black Folks, expatriated to Ghana and died, auspiciously, at 103 years on the night before the Martin Luther King-led 1963 March on Washington, during which King delivered the “I Have a Dream” Speech.

Even though Dubois did not found the Ghanaian community of African-American intellectuals, who languish in equatorial heat, his presence inspired so many to relocate to that former empire (6th-12th Century CE).  Most black intellectuals offer Dubois praise for his influence in their lives and their journeys

Dubois fought maltreatment of blacks, offered methods of black ascension, collected and compiled data, – laying the foundation for establishing the field of social work and astronomically erected lists of other life accomplishments. Yet, the wear and tear on the human psyche that the American racial set of beliefs, practices,

and expectations extracts an exceptional toll on the black mind through eternal vigilance, as it did on Dubois, as it seems to do on Kaepernick.

The vigilance against harmful and not-so-harmful racially molded practices of the United States brand gets heavy sometimes and wears the brightness out of young eyes, looking for acceptance.  That exceptional racial brand sparks a certain alertness to manners, innuendos, movements of personnel, gerrymandered friendship circles, and close readings for what is not included in a story or book.

As in the case of Kaepernick’s journey, many travelers outside their native-born United States often comment that when they were in other countries, they felt lighter and freer, that they did not feel any racial prejudice.  When traveling to other countries, especially African countries, there is such a relief.  Not that racial prejudice ends at the United States borders, but it is less recognizable, less systemic, and in many cases less intense than the US brand.

Kaepernick, according to his tweet, went to Ghana for self-discovery.  This Sankofa, return home, is the kind of spiritual quest so many young African Americans went on during different decades of the 20th and early 21st centuries.  It is no surprise that these young people feel an awakening that could be part of a larger spiritual change.

As if an epiphany opened his third eye of awareness and his Christian compassion started flowing, Kaepernick donated his famous sneaker collection to San Francisco’s homeless and his custom-made suits to a program that helps people find jobs after being released from jail. Also, he helped raise funds for a plane load of blood and water for Somalia’s struggling population, according to an article by Nate Peterson on CBSSPORTS.com.

From knee-bowing during the playing of the “Star-Spangled Banner” to choosing to love as he stated in his Fourth of July declaration some people in local villages and African locations, the most remote from the well springs of attention and least powerful people because they matter in the human narrative also. These are the kinds of choices and sacrifices that leaders make, that heroes make.

Kaepernick may not be back on anyone’s football team this upcoming season, but he has chosen a life path that Christ would give a nod, Frederick Douglass would be proud, and one of which Mother Theresa would be inspired.