Houston Woman Wire

NEWS Houston mayor making good on 'pothole' campaign promise

The city of Houston is making good on Mayor Sylvester Turner's commitment to quick responses to pothole complaints, according to a report from Rice University's Kinder Institute for Urban Research.

Houston recently launched its pothole repair initiative, in which it aims to “assess and repair potholes reported to the 311 help and information line by the next business day.” As a part of this effort, the city also created a website to monitor its progress with respect to this goal. Two of the primary metrics displayed on the pothole tracker site are the outcome of 311 reported potholes and the percentage of potholes filled by the next business day.

The Kinder Institute confirmed the accuracy of the city's advertised rate of 94 percent of citizen-reported potholes filled by the next business day, as reported Jan. 21. The Kinder Institute noted that this percentage has fluctuated between 93 and 96 percent as the city receives and responds to new reports.

"The Kinder Institute was able to recreate the city’s method to calculate potholes filled by the next business day and confirm the accuracy of the numbers they have presented based on that approach," said Kyle Shelton, program manager for the Development, Transportation and Placemaking Program at the Kinder Institute. "Beyond confirming those numbers, we have suggested a few improvements to reporting the data and other changes that we believe might clarify what’s being counted.”

Suggestions included estimating the overall time it takes the city to assess 311 calls and additional breakouts of the categories of response to reports of potholes to further clarify its numbers and methodology for the public.

The city provided the Kinder Institute researchers with the underlying data from the 311 calls and from Public Works and Engineering Department service requests as well as work orders for the dates of Jan. 4-21. The city of Houston merged these data sets and calculated additional variables to compute the numbers displayed on the pothole tracker website. The Kinder Institute researchers worked with the raw data to independently recreate the city’s merged table and calculated variables – the pieces of information that feed directly into the pothole tracker. The method for the Kinder Institute’s approach to checking the numbers, along with the data they used, will be available on the institute’s website.

"As an independent research institution, we are excited to be working with local partners like the city of Houston on tracking and analyzing data such as the pothole numbers," Shelton said. "Putting big urban data to work in this way can help improve public performance and, ideally, Houstonians’ daily experience with the city."

For more information or to download a copy of the full report, visit http://kinder.rice.edu/

NEWS Register now for Annual AIDS Foundation Red Umbrella Stroll

AIDS Foundation Houston's signature fundraising event in the fight against HIV/AIDS is just one month away. The 27th Annual "Red Umbrella Stroll," presented by Marathon Oil, takes place on Sunday, March 6 at Sam Houston Park in downtown Houston. Funds raised help local HIV/AIDS service organizations provide programs and services to thousands of Houstonians impacted. A goal of $600,000 has been set, and more than 6,000 Houstonians are expected to gather to remember family and friends and to honor those living with HIV/AIDS.

AIDS Foundation Houston, now in its 34th year, is the first organization in Texas to provide dedicated HIV education and services. AIDS Walk Houston is the agency’s largest annual fundraiser that simultaneously garners touch-points and awareness of HIV and AIDS related issues within the greater Houston community.

The 5K walk benefits HIV/AIDS services organizations and almost 30,000 Houstonians currently living with HIV/AIDS. 

Benefitting agencies include: AIDS Foundation Houston, Inc.; Baylor College of Medicine – Teen Health Clinic; Bering Omega Community Services; Bering Support Network; Brentwood Community Foundation; Change Happens!; FLAS, Inc.; Lazarus House; LIVE Consortium; Resurrection Metropolitan Community Church; and the T.R.U.T.H. Project, Inc. Additional organizations that would benefit from participating are invited to apply.

Registration begins at noon on Sunday, March 6, and the walk will kick off at 1 p.m. A festival with live music and food trucks will follow this year’s walk.

For more information or to organize your own team, visit AIDSHelp.org/.             


NEWS Stipeche named director of education

Mayor Sylvester Turner has selected former Houston Independent School District Trustee Juliet Stipeche to serve as director of education, a new position within the mayor’s administration.

“Juliet is very passionate about education and children ,and I share that passion,” said Mayor Turner. “She is a visionary with transformative ideas. Her collaborative approach of working with parents, administrators, business, law enforcement and neighborhoods will help achieve my goal of moving this city forward and reducing the income inequality that is so often the result of deficiencies in the education system.” 

Stipeche comes to the mayor’s office from Rice University where she was associate director of the Richard Tapia Center for Excellence and Equity. She spent five years as a trustee on the Houston Independent School District Board, including serving as president in 2014. Since 2007, she has been shareholder of counsel at Nagorny & Stipeche, P.C.  She has written and presented lectures on nearly 20 topics ranging from demanding excellence in education to empowering students in today’s world to educating for equity in Texas. Her law degree was earned at The University of Texas, and she graduated magna cum laude from Rice University with a bachelor of science degree in political science, policy studies and religious studies   

Stipeche’s professional affiliations include membership in the State Bar of Texas, the National Association of Latino Elected Officials, the Mexican American Bar Association, the Hispanic Bar Association of Houston, the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, The Texas Association of School Boards and the National School Boards Association.

“The creation of this new position is meant to compliment, not compete, with the hard work of our area school districts,” said Turner. “Creating the strong, well-educated Houston of tomorrow will require everyone working together. Juliet is the perfect choice for ensuring my vision gets implemented.”

“I am excited and deeply honored to work with Mayor Sylvester Turner, who is committed to building a City where educational equity and opportunity exist for every child regardless of zip code,” said Stipeche. “I look forward to collaborating with fantastic community partners to build lasting relationships to promote educational excellence in the City of Houston.” 

Stipeche joined Mayor Turner’s administration on February 1.

NEWS Houston Police Chief to retire February 26

Mayor Sylvester Turner has accepted the retirement of Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland, effective February 26, 2016. McClelland was sworn in as a police officer in September 1977. He rose through the ranks at HPD and was sworn in by former Mayor Annise Parker as police chief on April 14, 2010.

“I want to thank Chief McClelland for his 39 years of service to the City,” said Mayor Turner. “He is a respected figure in the community who has served this city well and has many accomplishments of which to be proud.  The city’s crime rate during his tenure is lower than it was for the previous six years and citizen complaints filed against our officers are at a record low.”

Chief McClelland managed the fifth largest police agency in the nation with a budget of more than $825 million and a staff of 5200 sworn officers and 1200 civilian employees.  Whether it is creating new programs aimed at encouraging positive interaction with Houston’s youth, organizing a town hall where residents have the opportunity to ask questions or simply sharing a cup of coffee with residents, Chief McClelland made it a point to focus on taking HPD to the community it serves.

When asked what he considers his proudest accomplishments, he cites the lower crime rate, HPD’s stewardship of its financial resources and improved community relations.  He is also very personally proud of having been able to convince former Mayor Parker and City Council to name HPD headquarters after Officer Edward A. Thomas, one of HPD’s first African American officers and the department’s longest serving officer.

This is a decision that was reached after much personal thought and consultation with my family,” said McClelland. “It was not an easy decision, but I know it is the right decision for me personally.   am leaving HPD in a better place than it was six years ago.” 

Mayor Turner has not yet selected an interim chief; that decision will be made in the coming days. 


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