All posts by City Of Houston - USA

City of Houston Receives Corporate Commitment Award for Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

HOUSTON — Houston Mayor Annise Parker today announced that the City of Houston recently received the Corporate Commitment Award from the Texas Diversity Council. The Texas Diversity Council and Gulf Coast Advisory Board give the award to honor Gulf Coast organizations for their extraordinary corporate culture and unfailing commitment to diversity and inclusion in the workplace and business community.

“This award reflects the importance my administration has placed on creating an inclusive and equitable work environment for the more than 21,000 employees who provide the services necessary to sustain the nation’s fourth largest city and its residents,” said Mayor Parker. “I thank the Texas Diversity Council and Gulf Coast Advisory Board for this recognition and am proud of the City’s Human Resources Department and Director Omar Reid.”

The City fulfills all of the criteria necessary to be nominated for the Corporate Commitment Award:
Established a corporate culture with an extraordinary and unfailing commitment to diversity and inclusion
Developed and implemented effective initiatives as demonstrated by a diversified work force in which all persons are afforded opportunities for employment and upward mobility, regardless of race, ethnic origin, gender, religion, age, sexual orientation, disability, or any other prohibited basis of discrimination
Demonstrated a consistent pattern of an organizational commitment to the recruitment and retention of individuals of all populations
Cultivated and promoted diversity initiatives that establish and foster a more inclusive and equitable work/learning environment.
Members of the Texas Diversity Council and Gulf Coast Advisory Board nominated the City for this distinguished award, which was received by Human Resources Director Reid at the 9th Annual Gulf Coast DiversityFIRST Awards Luncheon on October 31, 2012.

The City continues to prove itself as one of the area’s largest and most diversified employers. Approximately 70 percent of the employees are minorities and/or women, including 59 percent of departmental executives serving in key leadership roles. Almost 60 percent of the 22 department directors are minorities and/or women.
An executive order, issued by Mayor Parker, mandates a workplace free from discrimination and harassment, and includes information on identifying, prohibiting and establishing inappropriate behavior and procedures for reporting and addressing allegations of workplace discrimination and harassment.

The City was also recently named one of Houston’s Best and Brightest Companies to Work For™ by the National Association of Business Resources.  The award, which is administered nationally in five markets, identifies and honors organizations that display a commitment to excellence in their human resource practices and employee enrichment.
More information on the Texas Diversity Council can be found at http://www.texasdiversitycouncil.org.

Houston Named Among Top U.S. Cities for Best Businesses and Careers by Forbes Magazine

HOUSTON — Mayor Annise Parker today touted Houston’s strong economic climate and vitality as Forbes magazine places Houston among the top 20 cities in the nation in its 14th annual ranking of The Best Places for Business and Careers. The print edition of Forbes featuring the rankings came out today.

“It’s great for our city to have national recognition for something Houstonians have known all along – we’re a business-friendly city with a lot to offer, such as plentiful jobs,” said Mayor Annise Parker. “Houston was one of the last cities to feel the economic recession of the rest of the country and the first to recover. Our population is expanding when many cities are not, because people are finding Houston is a great place to live, work and raise a family.”

Forbes rated the 200 largest U.S. metro areas based on 12 metrics using data from Moody’s Analytics, the U.S. Census and Bert Sperling, who runs Sperling’s BestPlaces. Factors included job growth (past and projected), costs (business and living), income growth over the past five years, educational attainment and projected economic growth through 2014. Forbes also included quality of life issues like crime rates, cultural and recreational opportunities and net migration patterns. The magazine gave the most weight to business costs and educational attainment in the overall ranking, including the number of highly ranked colleges in an area per Forbes’ annual college rankings.

 

Relevant Links:

FORBES’ article on Houston http://www.forbes.com/sites/kurtbadenhausen/2012/06/27/houstons-business-climate-heats-up/

Mayor Annise Parker’s Interview with Forbes  http://video.forbes.com/fvn/bestplaces/houston-mayor-makes-her-business-pitch

FORBES’ Best Places for Business and Careers Rankings http://www.forbes.com/best-places-for-business/

New Baggage Claim at Hobby Airport is Open

HOUSTON — Improvements continue to arrive at William P. Hobby Airport (HOU), as the new baggage claim operation is opened to the public.  The renovated space offers passengers a number of improved features, including new terrazzo flooring, longer baggage conveyors, upgraded lighting and larger restroom facilities.

“We’ve made a commitment to the public to return our facilities to opening day fresh,” says Houston aviation director Mario Diaz.  “This renovation goes a long way in living up to that commitment.  This is a high-traffic area where customers will definitely notice the improvements, especially compared to the previous layout.”

The construction project began in June 2010, and over the past two years passengers have used a temporary baggage area while the renovated space was being completed.  Customers were directed to the new baggage claim area for the first time on June 26, 2012.

It is the same footprint of the original baggage claim area that had been open since the airport opened in 1965.  But, the new space is an open concept, making the area look larger and much brighter.   Customers will no longer see the green tile flooring and wooden locker facilities that had become synonymous with the prior baggage claim area.

“Hobby Airport has come a long way in a short amount of time. We’ve been able to upgrade the airport in several different areas that have made a huge impact to our customers,” says Ross Underhill, Hobby Airport acting general manager. “Now that the baggage claim area is open, we’ll set our focus on opening the U-ramp up again.”

The completion of the new baggage claim area represents a major step forward in the progression of the $350 million Hobby Airport renovations. So far, there have been new ticket counter spaces added, lobby and artwork.

Ticket Counters:  Moved all carriers, except for Southwest Airlines, to renovated space.

Lobby:  Remodeled main entryway/lobby and elevator/escalator passageway.

Art:  Installed several new art pieces, both inside and outside the airport.

Next up is the opening of the U-Ramp in August, 2012. 

Contact: Houston Airports 281-233-1234

To view pictures of the baggage area, click here.

Mayor Parker Touts Houston City Gardens Mentioned in First Lady Obama’s New Book

HOUSTON — Mayor Annise Parker today announced the Houston City Gardens are highlighted in First Lady Michelle Obama’s new book, American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America. The gardens, built in June 2010 and located outside the Bob Lanier Public Works Building in Downtown Houston, are part of Mayor Parker’s initiatives promoting local food, urban gardens and nutrition.

“The City of Houston is leading by example, demonstrating how easy and affordable it can be to build a vegetable container garden and eat healthy, which the First Lady has done herself at the White House,” said Mayor Annise Parker. “In addition to the health, environmental and economic benefits, the City Gardens create a sense of community for staff, fostering collaboration and teamwork.”

Just as the First Lady has made healthy living and nutritious eating her top issues, so have the City Gardens highlighted local produce and educated Houstonians about the ease of maintaining a vegetable garden in any type of environment. The City Gardens offer Houstonians ideas, resources and information they need to make healthier choices about food consumption and production. The Gardens enhance the quality of urban downtown, not only for residents who are increasingly moving to downtown, but also the staff who work downtown every day.

The City Gardens have spurred many projects since they were planted two years ago this month:

  • Victory Gardens at Tranquility Park
  • Urban Gardens at the Houston Permitting Center
  • 7 Satellite City Gardens at city buildings throughout Houston (Parks building, Recycling center, Water plant, etc.)
  • Weekly City Hall Farmers Market

In addition, businesses are now receiving incentives through the Houston Green Office Challenge program to plant urban gardens. Mayor Parker is also developing a program to lease City property in neighborhoods for allotment gardens.

Tambri Elkins, President of the City Gardens, says in American Grown, “Our City Garden is a lesson that anyone can grow food with a minimal amount of space, time, money and energy. In these containers, we produce not only sustenance but also pride and confidence. The gardeners meet people who work in the same building, who we may have passed for years in hallways, but we never knew their names. And whenever I’m in the garden, someone always walks by and asks, ‘What are you growing?’”

The Mayor’s office partnered with the following organizations and volunteers to build, plant and maintain the City Gardens: City of Houston Public Works and Engineering and Parks and Recreation Departments, Urban Harvest, Keep Houston Beautiful, Asakura Robinson, Texas AgriLife, University of Houston Downtown Environmental Club, Nature’s Way Resources, San Jacinto Environmental, Thompson and Hanson, and Scotts.

Mayor Parker Announces Federal Grant to Expand Solar Installations

HOUSTON — The City of Houston has received $91,572.00 in grant funding to promote market readiness of solar technologies. Grant funding will be used to make installing rooftop solar photovoltaic easier, faster, and cheaper for homeowners and businesses by implementing streamlined and standardized processes that will dramatically improve local market conditions.

“This new funding will help Houstonians take better advantage of more affordable solar energy, reducing their energy costs as well as greenhouse gas emissions,” said Mayor Parker.

The purpose of the grant is to achieve measurable improvements in market conditions for rooftop photovoltaics with an emphasis on streamlined and standardized permitting processes, interconnection standards, net metering tariffs, and site restrictions. Hardware costs for solar have dramatically decreased over the past few years, but permitting and installation costs can still be high.  This funding aims to reduce these costs by making permitting and installation consistent, easy and less time consuming.

The City of Houston will work with the cities of San Antonio and Austin to enhance existing policy and process frameworks and identify ways to increase efficiency while maintaining high standards, thereby reducing the administrative burden on local solar installers. 

The grant funding will also be focused on simplifying the process for solar installers and consumers, educating citizens on homeowner association approval protocols, and informing the public on new financing options available from the last Texas legislative session, including community solar and third party solar ownership.

Funding for this project is through the US Department of Energy SunShot Initiative: Rooftop Solar Challenge to Induce Market Transformation.

Mayor Parker, City Council Appoint Directors for Housing and Neighborhoods Departments

HOUSTON — Mayor Annise Parker and Houston City Council have confirmed the appointments of two directors – Neil Rackleff for the city’s Housing and Community Development Department and Katherine Tipton for the Department of Neighborhoods. Both have worked for the City of Houston and were chosen to lead their departments as interim directors in recent months, but excelled in their new roles and have become permanent directors.

“I am glad to have found that both Katie and Neal are up to the challenge of leading their respective departments and bringing them to new heights,” said Mayor Parker. “They each bring many years of invaluable experience in their fields, but moreover they have the institutional knowledge acquired as city employees that placed them above any other external candidates.”

Katherine Tipton joined the City of Houston in 2009 as a Sign Administrator in the Public Works Department. More recently, Ms. Tipton served as Interim Director of the Department of Neighborhoods, managing seven divisions.  Encompassing a wide spectrum of community services and resources, the Department divisions are:   Inspections & Public Services, Mayor’s Citizens’ Assistance Office, Mayor’s Volunteer Initiatives Program, Mayor’s Anti-Gang Office, Mayor’s Office of Education Initiatives, Office of International Communities and Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities.

Prior to joining the City of Houston, Ms. Tipton served as City Manager for the City of Stevenson in Alabama.  In this capacity, she managed the city’s strategic plans for all departments, recommended courses of action for city growth, monitored and evaluated plans and results, and managed the city’s budget and finances.  Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, she holds a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Alabama.  

Neal Rackleff brings to the City more than seventeen years of successful affordable housing, community and economic development experience.  Prior to joining the City’s Housing and Community Development Department, Rackleff spearheaded numerous public/private partnerships and redevelopment efforts as an attorney for the law firm of Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell, LLP.  As a former General Counsel for the Houston Housing Authority, and Vice President and General Counsel of the Greenspoint Management District, Rackleff has a deep understanding of both federal and state housing programs. Rackleff worked on some of the most significant development projects in the City’s history, including Allen Parkway Village and the redevelopment of the Rice Hotel.

Rackleff received his Doctor of Jurisprudence from the University of Southern California Law Center and a bachelor’s degree from Bringham Young University.  He is involved in numerous civic and community organizations.  In his spare time, Rackleff enjoys spending time with his wife of 24 years and their four children.

Houston’s Mayor Parker, City Council Approve Southwest Airline’s International Expansion Proposal for Hobby Airport

HOUSTON — In an overwhelming vote of 16-1, Mayor Annise Parker and Houston City Council today approved Southwest Airlines' plans for international service at Hobby Airport. The expansion will mean flights to Latin America from Hobby by 2015, if the federal government approves a new customs facility necessary to screen international passengers.

“This is a big win for Houston and the traveling public,” said Mayor Parker.  “Competition will lead to jobs, lower fares and a positive economic impact for the city. My goal is a strong international presence at Hobby and a continued strong international presence at Bush airport. We will also continue our commitment to ensuring there is adequate customs and immigration staffing at Bush and at Hobby when international service begins there in 2015.”

 Construction is planned for the spring of 2013.  In the interim, the City will work closely with SWA and the Federal Aviation Administration to obtain the necessary federal approvals as well as a commitment for an adequate number of customs and border patrol agents at both of our airports.

 Last week, Mayor Parker unveiled the proposed agreement under which Southwest Airlines (SWA) will cover all costs related to the $100 million expansion. The Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) requires SWA to design and build the five new gates and customs facility to the City’s specifications.  When finished, the City will own the improvements debt free. 

In return for its investment, SWA will have preferential scheduling rights and pay no rent for its use of four of the five new international gates, and will also pay no rent for its use of the customs facility.  The fifth additional gate and the customs facility will be available for use by all other airlines at Hobby, but unlike SWA, the other airlines will pay rent.

An independent study commissioned by the Houston Airport System indicates that increased competition will lower fares that entice additional passengers to travel through Hobby.  Many of these additional travelers will be visitors to Houston and this will drive job growth in Houston’s tourism, hotel, retail and restaurant sectors.  The overall impact is job creation and an annual net positive economic impact for the greater Houston metropolitan area.

The addition of international service at Hobby will mean approximately 20 more departures daily, which is still far below the historical record-setting activity levels of 1997.  SWA intends to utilize new 737 aircraft that are more efficient and quieter than older models, thus eliminating impact on the surrounding neighborhood.  

Mayor Parker announces global care day project

HOUSTON — Houston Mayor Annise Parker announces a volunteer-driven community service project benefitting persons with disabilities, scheduled to take place in observance of Global Care Day 2012, Saturday, April 14, at the City’s Metropolitan Multi-Service Center, located at 1475 W. Gray.   

The Houston Parks and Recreation Department, the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities and the Mayor’s Office for Veteran Affairs will join forces with LyondellBasell Industries to refurbish the facilities.  A team of more than 200 volunteers from LyondellBasell will renovate the open spaces used for adaptive recreation programs and activities by persons with disabilities.  Enhancements will include the construction of an accessible garden, the establishment of an alternative format library and the refurbishing of the center’s game room and activity areas.  

“The City of Houston is very excited to be joined by LyondellBasell for this project, which will greatly enhance the services and facilities that we provide for people with disabilities,” said Mayor Parker.  “The generosity of LyondellBasell Industries volunteers reflects our city’s spirit of giving.  We thank them for sharing their time, skills and talents for the good of our fellow citizens.”   

"Global Care Day is a special day for LyondellBasell.  While many of our people dedicate their time and energy to our communities throughout the year, Global Care Daygives us an opportunity to use our scale to be a catalyst for positive change in communities around the world in a span of 24 hours," said LyondellBasell CEO Jim Gallogly.

During the opening ceremony a City Proclamation by Mayor Parker commemorating Global Care Day, will be presented to LyondellBassell by Andrew C. Burks, City Council Member for At-Large Position 2.  The day’s activities will include the assembly of care packages for U.S. troops in Afghanistan, the presentation of a “thank you” banner to wounded veterans and a concert by children with disabilities sponsored by The River.  

The refurbishing project is one of 14 community service projects in Greater Houston and one of 70 projects worldwide that LyondellBasell is conducting as part of Global Care Day 2012.  

For more information about the City of Houston Department of Neighborhoods and the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, visit website www.houstontx.gov/neighborhoods. 

 

Mayor Parker Signs Cooperative Agreement with Sao Paulo Mayor

HOUSTON — Houston Mayor Annise Parker today signed a memorandum of understanding with Gilberto Kassab, mayor of Sao Paulo, Brazil, initiating cooperation between both cities to develop productive relations in different fields of mutual interest.

“The hearts of Houston and Sao Paulo beat at the same pace,” said Mayor Parker. “We share many similarities, since both cities are important economic drivers for their respective countries and we are geographically located near an ocean, although not on the coast. I look forward to sharing knowledge and experience to help improve the quality of life and business relations between our cities.”

The agreement states both cities will:

  • exchange information and experiences in healthcare services, economy, urban planning, housing, transportation, education, environment, security, sports and tourism
  • promote the establishment and intensification of economic and commercial relations
  • stimulate scientific technological and technical exchange, observing Brazilian and US legislation
  • stimulate exchange between city officials, enterprises, educational and scientific institutions, youth organizations, artistic groups, sport and tourism of the two cities
  • promote the development of joint events and programs related to the industries and areas of cooperation listed above

Mayor Parker is currently leading a Houston trade delegation in Brazil. Organized by the Greater Houston Partnership, the purpose of the mission is to capitalize on the many synergies between Houston and Brazil; expand business opportunities for Houston companies in Brazil; increase opportunities for Brazilian investment in Houston; and establish strong, friendly ties between Houston and key counterparts in Brazil, especially within the cities of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

Located on the southeastern Brazilian Highlands, Sao Paulo is approximately 40 miles from the Atlantic Ocean. It has a humid subtropical climate and a population of almost 20 million people in the metropolitan area. Sao Paulo’s economy is based on the textile, chemical and machinery industries, as well as growing coffee, cotton, sugar and other crops. 

Mayor Parker Announces City of Houston Receives IBM Grant

HOUSTON — Mayor Annise Parker today(March 15 ) announced that City of Houston has been chosen to receive an IBM Smarter Cities Challenge Grant. The grant provides Houston with access to IBM’s top experts to analyze and recommend ways Houston can become an even better place in which to live and work.   

“As the fourth largest city in the U.S., Houston has a diverse and dynamic population with unique needs to address,” said Mayor Parker. “We need to take advantage of available technologies to share information and resources to address our most pressing issues. Partnerships like the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge will bring new ideas to the table. I am grateful IBM is lending their expertise to help Houstonians learn more about what their city has to offer.” 

Once in Houston, a grant-funded IBM team will work with city officials to explore ways to connect school-aged students to public services that strengthen families and schools, including the provision of some public services online; make relevant data on programs, services and resources more readily available; and strengthen collaboration with the Houston Independent School District. The project will build upon the work being done by the city’s Department of Neighborhoods, established by Mayor Parker in 2010 to reorganize many divisions that were previously dispersed through the city and create a one-stop shop for citizens needing assistance with neighborhood issues.

Houston was one of 140 applicants and 32 cities worldwide selected by IBM that made the strongest case for participating in the Smarter Cities Challenge. 

“The cities that have been selected are all different, but they had one clear similarity: the strong personal commitment by the city’s leadership to put in place the changes needed help the city make smarter decisions,” said Stanley S. Litow, IBM vice president of Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs, and President of IBM’s International Foundation. “These cities demonstrated a desire to set an example for other municipalities, an eagerness to collaborate with multiple stakeholders, and a strong commitment to consider implementing recommendations the city felt would be the most feasible and beneficial to their residents.” 

The approximate value of each Smarter Cities Challenge grant is equivalent to as much as US$400,000.   
IBM’s Smarter Cities Challenge is an outgrowth of IBM’s Corporate Service Corps grants program, in which IBM deploys teams of top employees to areas in the developing world to work on projects that intersect business, technology and society. Since the launch of Corporate Service Corps in 2008, nearly 1,400 IBM employees based in 50 countries have been dispatched on more than 140 team assignments in 24 countries. 

To find out more about IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grants, visit http://smartercitieschallenge.org/  and http://www.youtube.com/user/citizenIBM

Texas Children’s Hospital Provides Simulation Training

HOUSTON — The Simulation Center at Texas Children’s Hospital has begun providing Pediatric Simulation Training for Emergency Pre-hospital Providers (Pedi-STEPPs) to members of the Houston Fire Department (HFD) EMS. A grant from the Cullen Trust for Healthcare, as well as a community benefit donation from Texas Children’s Hospital will allow this innovative training to be offered free of charge to the City for 500 firefighters over the next two years. 

The training course is part of a comprehensive, yearly curriculum incorporating didactics, multimedia, technical skills training and communication/team skills training through participation in high-fidelity simulation scenarios. Each high fidelity simulation will be followed by a facilitated video-reviewed debriefing session where participants will reflect on and learn from their performance. The result of this combination is a truly blended learning curriculum that is consistent with adult learning theory. Texas Children’s Hospital in conjunction with Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) and the HFD have been working together for more than 20 years to help better the health of our community and our region’s children.

“In addition to training hospital staff, it has always been a larger goal of ours to reach further into the community by working with first responders – after all, a community of healthy children is part of the Texas Children’s vision,” said Dr. Jennifer Arnold,  medical director of the Simulation Center and assistant professor of pediatrics at BCM.  “By providing this type of training to the Houston Fire Department, we’re making sure pediatric patients and their families receive the best possible care, from the moment help arrives.”

Each eight-hour course provides hands-on skills and scenario-based training. HFD EMS providers will go through simulated scenarios that are rare and high risk offering the ability to practice life saving skills for neonatal and pediatric patients. By offering the opportunity to work through complicated procedures without the concerns or risks associated with learning on real patients, this course will enhance the care that the HFD personnel provide to the public.

“This partnership is a shining example of how we can creatively work together as a city to make our community safer,” said Mayor Annise Parker. “The training provided by Texas Children’s Hospital for the Houston Fire Department will ensure that our children are given the best possible care including the latest communication and clinical techniques, even before they arrive to the hospital.”

The first year’s learning objectives will focus on respiratory distress in a pediatric patient, management of a newborn born out of the hospital in distress, management of pediatric trauma and cardiopulmonary arrest in infants and children. Future curricular goals could include obstetrical emergencies, pediatric shock and emergencies for technology-dependent pediatric patients. HFD physician directors will work with Texas Children’s Simulation Center experts in developing the curriculum. 

“We are excited to be a part of the Simulation Center program at Texas Children’s Hospital,” said Dr. David Persse, physician director of EMS and professor of surgery at BCM. “This access to world-renown training will give us access and hone our skills to tackle high-risk and complicated pediatric emergency situations in the field. We hope this will be a model that other cities can adopt.”

The Texas Children’s Simulation Center opened in 2009 as the only center of its kind in Texas, and one of the largest among the pediatric simulation centers in the United States. Located in the world’s largest medical center and the fourth largest city in the nation, the Simulation Center has the potential to impact the care of children around the world.

Photo Credit : Children’s Simulation Center ,by Paul Vincent Kuntz

City of Houston Given Highest Award in Texas for Employer Support of National Guard, Reserve Employees

HOUSTON — Mayor Annise Parker today announced the City of Houston has been named the 2012 Pro Patria Award Recipient for Texas, the highest award given to an employer by the Texas Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), an agency of the U.S. Department of Defense.
“As a city government, we remain committed to go above and beyond the minimum federal requirements to support our military employees and their families.  They play a key role in our continued success as a city, and we are deeply appreciative of their service to our citizens, city and country,”  said Mayor Parker. “We are honored to receive the ESGR’s highest award in Texas.”
 
Pro Patria is a latin term, meaning for one’s country.  Part of ESGR’s mission is to recognize employers who excel at supporting their employees serving in the Guard and Reserve. Each year, the Texas ESGR Committee selects one large employer in the state as a Pro Patria recipient. That organization is recognized for providing the most exceptional support of national defense through leadership practices and personnel policies supporting employees who serve in the National Guard and Reserve.
 ESGR is a Department of Defense agency established in 1972. Its mission is to gain and maintain employer support for Guard and Reserve service by recognizing outstanding support, increasing awareness of the law and resolving conflicts through informal mediation. ESGR volunteers provide free education, consultation and, if necessary, mediation for employers of Guard and Reserve employees.
The Pro Patria Award ceremony will be held at 7:00 pm on Thursday, March 22, 2012, at the Radisson Hotel and Suites in downtown Austin.

Texas Warrant Round Up Grace Period Ends February 24

HOUSTON — The City of Houston Municipal Courts Department, HPD, and several Harris County Constables, along with dozens of Gulf Coast law enforcement entities, announced their participation in the upcoming “2012 Great Texas Warrant Round-Up” Friday, February 10, 2012. The last day to resolve warrant cases before the grace period officially comes to an end is Friday, February 24, 2012.
This coming Saturday, February 25, 2012, the Great Texas Warrant Round-Up will get underway when law enforcement agencies from Houston and surrounding counties such as Brazoria, Fort Bend, Galveston, Liberty, Montgomery, Waller and Wharton will simultaneously look for individuals in their cities with outstanding warrants, an occurrence that will be happening in jurisdictions statewide.
The City of Houston Municipal Courts alone has thousands of active warrants it is seeking to clear. Over one hundred thousand notices were mailed to Houston Municipal Court defendants with active warrants.
“While numerous people have already stepped forward to resolve their court matters, there are still too many defendants who have cases in warrant status, and therefore they remain under the threat of arrest. Citizens are encouraged to either call us or come in and discuss your case with a Judge or a prosecutor. There are several options available for case resolution,” said Presiding Judge Barbara E. Hartle.
Once the warrant period begins February 25th, HPD officers will aggressively target those persons on the warrant list and arrests can take place at any location, including the defendant’s home, school or workplace.
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 is listed at the end of this announcement and can also be found at http://www.houstontx.gov/courts/
For more information about City of Houston warrants or citations visit the website at http://www.houstontx.gov/courts/  or contact City’s Helpline at 3-1-1 or 713-837-0311 if outside the City of Houston.

Houston Joins New Nationwide Energy Efficiency Challenge

HOUSTON — Mayor Annise D. Parker today announced the City of Houston’s participation in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Challenge (BBC), a nationwide public-private partnership that seeks to improve energy efficiency 20 percent by 2020 in commercial, government and school buildings across the country.  The city and its corporate partners are committing a total of 30 million square feet of property for energy efficient upgrades as part of its participation in the BBC.
“I am committed to sustainability,” said Mayor Parker.  “It not only helps our environment, it also saves taxpayer dollars.  The city and its local corporate partners in the BBC have already taken numerous steps to make buildings and other facilities more energy efficient, and more efficiencies will follow.  We are leading by example.”
Through its participation in the Better Buildings Challenge, the City of Houston will work with local partners to implement initiatives that reduce emissions, protect air quality and save taxpayers money.  So far, there are seven local participants: the City, CBRE, Jones Lang LaSalle, USAA Real Estate, Schneider Electric, HISD, and Transwestern. “We are proud to be part of this very important program,” said Transwestern President and Chief Executive Officer Larry P. Heard.  “For us, there’s a real business case for sustainability: Optimized operations yield heightened financial performance, which enables our clients to maximize their returns.”
“As President Obama made clear in this week’s State of the Union address, one of the easiest ways for businesses to save money and improve their competitiveness is to reduce energy waste in their buildings and factories,” said U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu.  “Through the Better Buildings Challenge, the city of Houston is helping to boost manufacturing, create U.S. jobs, reduce pollution, and build an American economy that lasts.” Nationwide, more than 60 companies, cities, universities, hospitals and other partners have committed to upgrading more than 1.6 billion square feet of building space nationwide.
The City of Houston is taking a holistic approach to energy consumption by implementing demand response, retro-commissioning and behavioral change management programs.  As of 2011, nearly 80 buildings have been retrofitted, representing over 5.2 million square feet. Currently, Houstonis fifth in the nation in number of LEED certified buildings (163 total) and has eight LEED Platinum office buildings.  The Houstonarea ranks seventh on the EPA’s list of cities with the most Energy Star rated buildings (175 total).  The City’s goal is to become number one in the nation in Energy Star and LEED certified buildings.  In addition to the progress made in LEED certified buildings, the City of Houston’s Green Office Challenge is helping commercial office owners and managers increase their environmental and economic performance in the areas of energy conservation, waste reduction, water efficiency, cleaner transportation choices and property management/tenant engagement.
More efficient commercial and industrial buildings reduces the nation’s dependence on foreign oil, protects the environment, and saves billions of dollars in energy costs that can be spent growing businesses, investing in new technologies, and creating American jobs.

Houston Airport: Groundbreaking Starts Construction of New Terminal B

HOUSTON —  Houston Mayor Annise Parker and the Houston Airport System in partnership with United Continental Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: UAL), today broke ground on the first phase of a three-phase redevelopment project at George Bush Intercontinental Airport. Phase one of the project, to be completed in 2013, will create a new Terminal B south concourse dedicated to regional jet operations.
The $160 million south concourse project will replace the existing south side flight stations with a new 225,000 square-foot facility to accommodate United’s regional aircraft. At nearly four times the size of the existing space, the new concourse will provide a better customer experience, as it will feature modern and expanded gate lounge areas, concessions and restroom facilities.
Travelers will access the new concourse from the terminal via a 95-foot-wide bridge with 13,000 square feet of food, beverage and retail concessions – a 500-percent increase in concession space over the current facility. The concourse will feature 28-foot-high floor-to-ceiling glass windows, offering expansive tarmac views from spacious central passenger lounge areas with durable and modern interior finishes.
“As I noted in my inaugural address, creating jobs for Houstonians is my number-one job for the next two years,” said Mayor Parker. “Phase one of this billion-dollar investment with United is the first delivery on that promise. We celebrate the boost to our local economy that will result from this investment.  Houston will thrive as our global gateway expands to include more flights and greater access to business connections around the world.”
“Houston is our largest hub and a vital international gateway in United’s network,” said Pete McDonald, United’s executive vice president and chief operations officer. “This investment in the Houston hub will allow us to accommodate more customers and more aircraft types, provide new amenities for travelers and improve efficiencies for the new United.”
Plans for future phases of the $1 billion redevelopment project include redevelopment of the central Terminal B lobby and baggage claim areas, a new international-capable north concourse for mainline and regional jets, a new Terminal B Federal Inspections Services (FIS) facility and infrastructure improvements.
The entire three-phase redevelopment project is planned over the next seven to 10 years, based on demand.
The project’s design incorporates energy-efficient techniques using Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) criteria.
The Houston Airport System is partnering with United on the project and the new construction will be a significant investment in the local economy by creating many jobs.
“Bush Intercontinental is the first impression many people have of Houston,” said Mario C. Diaz, director of the Houston Airport System. “We exist to connect people, businesses and economies around the world, and this project will allow for an enhanced customer experience and a stronger gateway for our air service needs.”
 About George Bush Intercontinental Airport
The Houston Airport System (HAS) served more than 49.5 million passengers in 2010. George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) is the 7th busiest airport in the nation and more than 40.4 million passengers traveled through the five-runway, five terminal airport. Seventeen airlines offer nonstop flights from IAH to more than 170 destinations worldwide including nonstop flights and connections to more destinations in Mexico than any other airport in the nation. For more information, visit fly2houston.com or follow us on Twitter @IAH.

 About United Continental Holdings, Inc.
United Continental Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: UAL) is the holding company for both United Airlines and Continental Airlines. Together with United Express, Continental Express and Continental Connection, these airlines operate an average of 5,717 flights a day to 376 airports on six continents from their hubs in Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, Guam, Houston, Los Angeles, New York/Newark Liberty, San Francisco, Tokyo and Washington, D.C. United and Continental are members of Star Alliance, which offers more than 21,200 daily flights to 1,185 airports in 185 countries. United and Continental’s more than 80,000 employees reside in every U.S. state and in many countries around the world. For more information about United Continental
Holdings, Inc., go to UnitedContinentalHoldings.com. For more information about the airlines, see united.com and continental.com or follow United on Twitter and Facebook

Mayor Parker Selects New Leadership for City IT, Fleet Departments

HOUSTON — Mayor Annise Parker today announced two new directors for the City of Houston’s Information Technology (IT) and Fleet Management Departments. Charles Thompson will head IT while Kenneth Hoglund will oversee Fleet Management.

“We did nationwide searches for both of these positions, including internal candidates, and we picked the best ones,” said Mayor Parker.  “Mr. Thompson has led a team of IT professionals in developing an IT government framework that enabled information technology to be a strategic asset for the City of Phoenix, which we hope will happen in the City of Houston. Mr. Hoglund’s 22 years of extensive experience will be critical for the City of Houston  as we continue our efforts to run leaner and more efficiently, and make sure we have a cost model that is the best we can do.”

Thompson most recently worked as the Chief Information officer for the City of Phoenix in Arizona, leading a team of more than 200 professionals and a budget of $270 million. There, he developed and implemented an IT Governance Model to drive standardiazation, operational efficiencies and optimize business processes. His experience includes working as Chief Information Officer for Orange County and District of Columbia Public Schools, along with an engineering background focusing on systems technologies. He received his Master and Bachelor of Science degrees from the University of Maryland.

“We will work with a sense of urgency to build partnerships and we will improve the IT Department’s service delivery,” said Thompson. “I look forward to joining the team Mayor Parker has assembled as partners to build a stronger, safer and healthier Houston.”

Hoglund was the Director of Fleet Management for Cintas Corporation in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he managed a fleet of 13,000 vehicles. He has held managerial positions at UPS, DHL, FedEx and Boeing over the past 20 years. He received his Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering from the University of Washington in Seattle and is expected to receive his Master of Science degree in Finance from Golden Gate University this May.

“It’s a great honor to have the opportunity to join the executive team of the City of Houston and I especially thank Mayor Parker, City Council and the residents of Houston,” said Hoglund. “I look forward to leading the Fleet Department on its journey to becoming a world class fleet operation.”

Both directors’ nominations require confirmation by Houston City Council.

Mayor Parker Rescinds Stage Two Water Shortage Measures Water Wise Methods Still Required

HOUSTON — Houston Mayor Annise Parker and the Public Works and Engineering Department announce the City of Houston is lifting the mandatory water conservation measures imposed last summer.  The move follows recent rains and cooler temperatures, which have increased lake levels in all three drinking water reservoirs. As the city continues to experience severe drought conditions, Houston residents are asked to continue voluntary water conservation.

Although pre-drought water reservoir levels have not been reached, the City’s combined reservoir storage has exceeded criteria established in City ordinances for mandatory conservation.  Additionally, while ongoing breakage within the distribution system remains higher than normal due to continued ground movement with changing moisture conditions, the stress on the distribution system of last summer has been relieved and additional capacity for future repairs has been secured. 

According to the National Weather Service, the Houston area remains in severe to exceptional drought.  Coupled with long term predictions, it is clearly possible that Houston may experience an even more challenging summer this year than last.  While surface water storage has recovered to an extent, it is unlikely that the City will have as much storage at start of summer this year as we had last year, leading to a likeliness that conservation measures will need to be reinstated.  All water customers are strongly encouraged to practice and further develop water conservation efforts.

The following tips can also help our customers be good water stewards during one of the most severe droughts in Texas history. 

Ways to use water wisely:

  •        Keep showers under five minutes. Water saved: 2 to 5 gallons per minute
  •        Remember to turn water off while brushing your teeth.
  •        Wash only full loads of dishes or clothes
  •        Replace older model showerheads and faucet aerators with new low-flow models and install low water use toilets.
  •        Inspect toilets for silent leaks by putting food coloring in the toilet tank. If colored water leaks into the toilet bowl before flushing, water is being lost due to a worn flapper.
  •        Refrain from washing any vehicle or motorbike unless the dirt poses a driving hazard.
  •        Refrain from washing down any sidewalk, walkway, driveway, parking lot or any other hard-surfaced area.
  •        Refrain from filling, refilling or adding water to any indoor or outdoor swimming pool, spa or whirlpool.

The Public Works and Engineering Department website offers valuable information to encourage residents to use water wisely, which will reduce the large demand on our water system. Using water wisely can not only save water, but also reduce water bills.

http://www.publicworks.houstontx.gov/index.html ;     http://www.publicworks.houstontx.gov/utilities/conservation.html