For those of you in the more civic-minded crowd, there's plenty going on this week you'll want to keep an eye on. If you care about the state of your city or state, you might consider attending any one of these events around town this week.
Town Hall with HPD Chief Charles McClelland
This Saturday, McClelland and some top HPD commanders will meet with the public. According to a release from HPD, "Members of the public are encouraged to attend and to voice concerns and ask questions."
Will HPD reorient its how it handles small-time pot offenses, given that McClelland has admitted the drug war is an abject failure and that "we cannot criminalize such a large population of society that engage in casual marijuana"? (You know, since the data show HPD still made some 2,700 misdemeanor pot arrests in the first half of 2014 alone.) In hindsight, was it necessary for a Houston cop to shoot and kill an unarmed Jordan Baker? Does simply being under the influence of drugs or alcohol gives Houston cops the uncontested right to shoot you if you're "behaving erratically"? Why does someone like Sgt. Curtis Hampton still have a badge?
.... Just to name a few. We're sure you've got your own questions. HPD plans to livestream the town hall on its YouTube channel.
Saturday, February 7, 10:00 a.m. to noon, Granville M. Sawyer Auditorium, Texas Southern University Campus, 3100 Cleburne. For more info, go to houstonpolice.org.
Open House on Air Quality Monitoring in Houston
The neighborhoods of Manchester, Galena Park, and Milby Park bear brunt of toxic emissions that accompany Houston's petrochemical largesse. This past week research scientists announced a new plan for state-of-the-art air monitoring in these fence-line neighborhoods. The project aims to study targeted, neighborhood-specific levels of industrial air pollutants like cancer-causing benzene. They'll use cultured human lung cells to study exposure to ambient air pollution and roam the neighborhoods in mobile laboratories.
Dr. Jay Olaguer at HARC, the group leading the new air monitoring study, says the project has the potential to "drastically change the practice of industrial permitting and emissions reporting." We assume that's a good thing for anyone forced to live next to a refinery. Get more information on HARC's efforts in the Ship Channel by checking out this open house.
Saturday, February 7 from 10:00 a.m. to noon, Hartman Community Center, 9311 East Avenue P. For more info, go to harcresearch.org.
John Lewis talks March A living legend of the civil rights movement, U.S. Congressman John Lewis will be in town to talk about his life-long struggle for human and civil rights. Lewis will read from his two-volume graphic novel March, which was illustrated by artist and co-author Andrew Aydin. The book spans Lewis' youth in rural Alabama to meetings with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the nonviolent lunch counter sit-ins. Lewis and Aydin will read from and discuss the book before a signing at the Wortham Center's Cullen Theater on Sunday. RSVP for a free ticket to the event at houstonlibrary.org.
Sunday, February 8 at 6:30 p.m., Worthham Center's Cullen Theater, 500 Texas Ave. Free, limited seats available. Go to houstonlibrary.org for more information.
State of Black Houston 2015 As part of commemorating Black History Month, the Houston Justice Coalition, the Houston-Area Urban League and the NAACP Houston will host a "candid discussion" about criminal justice reform, local politics, and the portrayal of Houston's black community in the local media.
Tuesday, February 10, at 333 S. Jensen. Panel discussion starts at 7:00 p.m., reception begins at 8:30 p.m. Go to houstonjustice.org for more info.
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The Texas Tribune's "Houston & the Legislature" preview of the 84th Session The Lege kicked into gear last month, and holy hell does it look like we're in for one strange ride this session. Open Carry die-hards stormed the capitol on day one, got thrown out of a state representative's office after calling him a "tyrant to the constitution," and triggered a new panic-button policy for state lawmakers. The state's most powerful officeholder, newly-minted Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, has already set up some official advisory panels stacked with billionaires, rich heavyweight GOP benefactors, and the fringiest of the fringe Tea Party activists. Oh, and conservatives at the statehouse still hate Planned Parenthood. (Oh, and don't forget last week's Muslim-bashing episode.)
The Trib's event will feature some Houston-area reps to talk about legislative priorities for Greater Houston in the 84 th Lege. Buckle up. Debbie "terror babies" Riddle is on the panel.
Thursday, February 12 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Wortham Center, 501 Texas. RSVP at texastribune.org