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Jim Guidry Commentaries
Harris County
Harris County Commissioners Court
by Jim Guidry
Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Harris County Commissioners Court today voted unanimously to establish a six-month pilot Veterans Court Program in the 228th District Court to serve honorably discharged veterans who have been charged with felony offenses. Listen: RealPlayer MP3


Andrea Stohler of the Michael E. Debakey V. A. Medical Center, 228th District Court Judge Marc Carter and defense attorney Patrick McCann spoke in support of the program.

“Who better deserves a second chance than these young men and women that have honorably served our country,” Judge Carter asked.

A news conference outlining the design of the Veterans Court Program will be held on Veterans Day on the steps of the Harris County Criminal Justice Center. More

The commissioners court approved an amendment to the county’s agreement with Habitat for Humanity Northwest Harris County for an additional $649,600 in Home Investment Partnership program funds, providing for a single family development at 12800 Bammel North Houston Road. Listen: RealPlayer MP3

Ed Seiling and Rebecca Rex, neighbors of the development, appeared before the commissioners court to express concerns about density problems with other Habitat for Humanity developments and to ask for a delay until they are addressed. However, Harris County Community Services Director David Turkel said those problems have been addressed in the new development.

“This is a good use of our federal funds,” Turkel said.

The commissioners court approved a $1,231,875 agreement with Galveston County for jail inmate services, including detention, care and transport of up to 144 adult inmates.

The commissioners court voted to terminate an agreement with Jefferson County for detention, care and transport of up to 376 inmates. The Jefferson County Commissioners Court had voted to terminate the program when the company managing the overflow operation announced that it would no longer be available for the service.

The commissioners court discussed, but took no action on a memorandum of understanding between County Attorney Vince Ryan and the Houston Department of Health and Human Services regarding air pollution cases. Listen: RealPlayer MP3

Some members of the commissioners court expressed concern that Ryan had not been authorized to enter into the memorandum of understanding, but he insisted that he does have the authority. Commissioner Steve Radack said he supports Ryan’s efforts to stop polluters.

A request for authorization for the director of the Harris County Flood Control District and members of his staff to travel to Washington, D.C.; Dallas; Austin and Denton during 2010 for meetings with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Federal Emergency Management Agency and others regarding implementation and coordination of active and future federal projects was withdrawn from the agenda and was not discussed by the commissioners court.

A recommendation for the award of bids to McDonald Electric, Inc. for purchase and installation of back-up power generation for the Information Technology Department at Annex 18 at 406 Caroline was withdrawn from the agenda.

A request for approval of an amendment to a law enforcement agreement with Memorial Northwest Homeowners Association to delete a deputy position effective December 19 was withdrawn from the agenda.

A request for approval of credits to Summerwood Community Association, Inc. and Harris County Municipal utility District 49 for breaks in service in connection with law enforcement agreements was referred to the county auditor.

A request by the County Library for approval of indemnification for loss of funds in the amount of $20 was referred to the county auditor for review.

The commissioners court proclaimed November as Home Care and Hospice Month and November 19 and 20 as Geographic Information Systems Days in Harris County.

All other agenda items were approved.   All votes were unanimous except that Radack abstained on a $21,038 addition to the contract with Beyer Construction for Fallbrook sidewalk improvements; and on resolutions providing for chaplain services in the county by the Houston Regional Community Chaplains, and for the selection of Father Rivers A. Patout, III as the Maritime Person of the Year.   




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