Harris County Democrats Worked Together to Secure Come-From-Behind Victory for Democrat Pretta VanDible Stallworth in Her Saturday, December 9, 2017 HCCS Trustee for District IX Runoff Election Showdown Against Republican Front-Runner Eugene Pack 

Key people on the cover of this edition Houston Business Connections Magazine© are Dr. Pretta VanDible Stallworth (HCCS Trustee-Elect for District IX), Sheila Jackson Lee (Congresswoman for the 18th Congressional District of Texas), Borris L. Miles (State Senator for District 13), Al Green (Congressman for the 9th Congressional District of Texas), Alma Allen (State Rep. for House District 131), Rodney Ellis (Harris County Commissioner Precinct #1), Senfronia Thompson (State Rep. for House District 141), Larry V. Green (Councilman for District K), and Gilberto Hinojosa (Texas Democratic Party Chair), and Lillie Schechter (Harris County Democratic Party Chair). Houston Business Connections Magazine© is published by Aubrey R. Taylor Communications. Call (832)212-8735 or (281)788-3033 for more information. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, January 31, 2014

BULLETIN: The "Real" State of the College - By Carroll G. Robinson, Trustee, District IV for the (HCC) Houston Community College System


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The “Real” State of the College
By Carroll G. Robinson, Trustee, District IV

On Friday, January 31, 2014, the Acting Chancellor of the Houston Community College System (HCC) will report on the “State of the College”.

Declining

Unfortunately, the “State” of HCC is declining and the System needs stronger oversight from the Board of Trustees and greater accountability from the administration.

Before I was elected to the Board of Trustees and since I joined the Board in January 2012, a majority of the Board has been unwilling – and has failed – to hold the administration of the System fully accountable to prevent mismanagement, wasteful and unnecessary spending.

Unacceptable

A majority of the Board and the administration have spent millions of dollars in taxpayer money without awarding a contract or using data to measure performance and evaluate results. This should be unacceptable to all of us.

Return on Investment (ROI) has not been a part of the budgeting process at HCC. It’s been a non-existent concept for the administration and not enough Trustees have been willing to require it. The culture at HCC needs to be changed.

Oversight and Accountability

During my two years on the Board of Trustees, I have offered numerous proposals for improving and increasing the finances and fiscal accountability of HCC. They have almost all been blocked, ignored or rejected.

During my first year on the Board, a majority of the Board and administration refused to adopt a policy that would require all HCC contracts be reviewed by the System’s lawyers. I proposed this policy after I found out that the System’s contract with Qatar and the contract the former Chancellor gave her Deputy Chancellor had never been reviewed by any lawyer before they were signed.

That first year, I also supported establishing campaign contribution limits at HCC like those now in place at the City. That policy proposal was also opposed by a majority of the Board. Campaign contribution limits at HCC still needs to happen.

Last year, I offered a policy proposal that would have required contracts be suspended if there were any allegations of impropriety related to a specific contract until such time as a full and fair investigation could be completed.

That proposal was never placed before the Board for our consideration. The then Chairman of the Board refused to do so. This policy also needs to be adopted.

Part of the fiduciary duty of the Board of Trustees is to establish policies to protect the taxpayers’ money.

Student Success Needs Work

HCC has no real Strategic Business Plan that ties spending to outcome based metrics in the areas of student Enrollment, Retention and Increasing the System’s Graduation Rate and Workforce Certificates Awarded – Student Success.

Declining Enrollment

HCC’s enrollment is declining. Raising the tuition rate and fees will only make a college education and workforce training more expensive and less affordable for more Houstonians. HCC is Our Community College. Its focus should be educating people in Our Community; not building community colleges in foreign countries while HCC, in Houston, is declining and hundreds of thousands of people in Our Community need it to be working, affordable and effective.

Finances

The administration is now reporting that HCC has a multi-million dollar budget deficit that is only going to get worse in the coming years. Their only recommended solutions are raising the System’s property tax rate and increasing tuition and fees.

I will not support raising tuition and fees or increasing the HCC property tax rate. Neither needs to be done to fix HCC’s budget problems.

We Can Fix Things

HCC can increase its enrollment and fix its financial problems. To do that, HCC must:

 Implement a total Hiring freeze and conduct a comprehensive staffing analysis to determine how many employees the System really needs. This will also require establishing an optimum enrollment goal for the System. Doing so will help determine how many faculty and staff members the System really needs.

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Subject the entire System to a Lean Six Sigma evaluation and a comprehensive performance and operations audit.

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Improve, Streamline and Modernize its Enrollment, Financial Aid and Scholarship processes and systems to make them more user-friendly and easier for students to enroll. They must also all work better together.

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Convert existing advertising dollars into Scholarship Funds and go directly into all high schools – public, private and charter – in the HCC Service Area and offer students “last dollar” scholarships to fill the gap between financial aid and need to cover the full cost of tuition, fees and books. Doing this one simple thing would help increase enrollment and retention rates.

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Increase the number of state and federal Grants and Contracts awarded to the System. Grants and Contracts are an additional source of operating revenue. Unfortunately, HCC has failed to maximize this source of revenue. This problem must be fixed and will require better coordination with the Harris County Congressional and Legislative delegations. For months, I have been offering ideas for improving revenue generation in this area and they have yet to be utilized.

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Increase Investment Income by separating the Fund Balance form cash flow need and invest it in investments that will generate a minimum 2.5% return annually. Tripling HCC’s current rate of return on its investments would generate several extra million dollars in operating income annually.

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Increase Enterprise Revenue. The current HCC central administration building at 3100 Main Street in Midtown generates millions of dollars annually in lease payments from private sector tenants. HCC should use public/private partnerships to build a second building and parking garage on Main Street; Student Housing with retail space and a parking garage on the Central Campus; and Transit Oriented Development (TOD) projects at the Northline Campus and on property owned by the System in the North Forest area of Northeast Houston and at 288 @ North MacGregor. These projects could be up and running over the next twelve to twenty-four months and could generate $15 to $20 million dollars in net new revenue annually.

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Sell the small pieces of Surplus Property owned by the System that are too small to build on. Though small, those pieces of property will generate several million dollars in new revenue for HCC.

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Build and operate the Coleman College and North Forest Early College High Schools as Charter Schools. This would allow HCC to help improve students’ college readiness while generating additional new revenue for HCC.

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Participate in all ERCOT-Electricity Reliability Council of Texas – and Texas General Land Office (GLO)Energy Demand Response Programs. Doing so will help the System save hundreds of thousands of dollars on its electric bill while generating new revenue.

This Year

HCC can no longer keep doing the same old things and expecting a different result.

This year, the Board of Trustees must begin holding the administration fully accountable based on performance data and outcomes.

It’s no longer good enough for a majority of the Board of Trustees to be a Rubber Stamp for the administration. The Board should not allow outside groups and individuals to dictate what happens at HCC. Allowing this to continue to happen is not in the best interest of the System, our students or the taxpayers.

It is the fiduciary duty of the Board of Trustees to protect taxpayer money while ensuring that the residents of our community have access to a quality, affordable college education and workforce training.

Proper Board oversight is the foundation for making the State of the College – HCC – Stronger.

This is what is needed to ensure that everyone in Our Community has An Opportunity To Do Better.

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*Carroll G. Robinson is a former At‐Large Houston City Council Member. He is an Associate Professor at Texas Southern University, a Citizen Member of the Houston Firefighters’ Relief and Retirement Fund and served on the Advisory Board of K9s4COPS. He has also served on the Board of Directors of the National League of Cities and the Houston--‐Galveston Area Council (H-GAC).

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About the Houston Dallas Fort Worth Business Connections Magazine

Published for "People On The Move" by Aubrey R. Taylor Communications, The Houston Dallas Fort Worth Business Connections Magazine is focused on empowering, inspiring, promoting, highlighting, and informing people striving to reach their full potential in their personal and professional endeavors. This statewide magazine is focused on Business, Politics, Education, Religion and Health with a targeted emphasis on the Houston, Dallas and Fort Worth regions of Texas. Contact: (832)212-8735 today!

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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

BULLETIN: The City of Houston Has Sued The Firefighter Pension System

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BULLETIN -- In the face of growing concern about its ability to meet long-term retiree pension obligations, the City of Houston filed a lawsuit today against the Houston Firefighters’ Relief and Retirement Fund (HFRRF), one of three pension systems covering City employees. The lawsuit seeks to enable the City to have the same input on contributions and plan design for HFRRF that it already has with the Houston Police Officers Pension System (HPOPS) and the Houston Municipal Employee Pension System (HMEPS).

“State law that applies only to Houston is unreasonably restricting our ability to protect taxpayers and keep our commitment to secure and sustainable firefighter retirement benefits,” said Mayor Annise Parker. “It is clear from the difficulties experienced by other cities that this is an issue that must be addressed. We have to have the ability to negotiate these benefits at the local level and be able to verify the financial health of HFRRF. We cannot and will not kick the can down the road.”

Through the “meet and confer” process with HPOPS and HMEPS, the City is already able to negotiate employee contributions, retirement ages and benefit levels for police and municipal retirees. In the past, these negotiations have resulted in agreements that have improved the city’s ability to meet its long-term obligations for these two pension systems. Under existing state law, there is no similar process available for the firefighter pension system. Contrary to the laws that apply to other cities, Houston is excluded from the important financial decisions about benefit levels and the contributions to support those benefits for its firefighter retirees. These decisions are made by boards controlled by current and retired firefighters who have an obvious conflict of interest. Several attempts to obtain a legislative cure for this problem have been unsuccessful.

“Litigation is the only remaining option available to the City,” said City Attorney David Feldman. “Instead of Houston determining, or even having a meaningful say about the level of its own contributions to HFRRF, that decision is being made by people likely to benefit from the decision. The City is asking the court to declare unconstitutional the laws that allowed this. The suit also seeks to end the practice of HFRRF using taxpayer money to lobby in favor of such laws.”

Firefighters retiring with 30 years of service are currently eligible for an average initial monthly lifetime annuity of 94 percent of their average pre-retirement salary, plus an average estimate lump sum of approximately $850,000. The value of the average combined benefits for these retirees is estimated to be $1.6 million, which is equal to a lifetime monthly annuity of 197 percent of their average pre-retirement salary.

The City’s lawsuit does not seek any change in benefits being paid to current firefighter retirees, nor would it have any impact on HPOPS or HMEPS. The lawsuit was filed by the City’s Legal Department in the state district court of Harris County. Information about the lawsuit is available on the City’s website.

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About the Houston Dallas Fort Worth Business Connections Magazine

Published for "People On The Move" by Aubrey R. Taylor Communications, The Houston Dallas Fort Worth Business Connections Magazine is focused on empowering, inspiring, promoting, highlighting, and informing people striving to reach their full potential in their personal and professional endeavors. This statewide magazine is focused on Business, Politics, Education, Religion and Health with a targeted emphasis on the Houston, Dallas and Fort Worth regions of Texas. Contact: (832)212-8735 today!

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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

BULLETIN: Jim Johnson is a Senior Associate for Aubrey R. Taylor Communications, publisher of the Houston Dallas Fort Worth Business Connections Magazine

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Jim Johnson is a Senior Associate for Aubrey R. Taylor Communications, publisher of the Houston Dallas Fort Worth Business Connections Magazine

Jim Johnson is responsible for the global growth and expansion of all Aubrey R. Taylor Communications products, publications and services. He is currently charged with growing and expanding the Houston Dallas Fort Worth Business Connections Magazine footprint in Texas. Johnson is also the founder and CEO of Better Marketing Concepts, LLC and is supported by some of the best international business consultants in the world. His travels and associations worldwide have afforded him the opportunity to create and maintain strong relationships with powerful people in both the corporate and political worlds. Jim Johnson has developed a unique approach, working with small and large firms, and governmental entities -- each approach is customized and strategic in nature. After spending more than 25-years working in corporate America representing firms such as International Telephone & Telegraph, Aramco Services Company, Texaco, and The Anheuser Bush Companies, Johnson has gained vast knowledge and a keen understanding of how Corporate America works.

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About the Houston Dallas Fort Worth Business Connections Magazine

Published for "People On The Move" by Aubrey R. Taylor Communications, The Houston Dallas Fort Worth Business Connections Magazine is focused on empowering, inspiring, promoting, highlighting, and informing people striving to reach their full potential in their personal and professional endeavors. This statewide magazine is focused on Business, Politics, Education, Religion and Health with a targeted emphasis on the Houston, Dallas and Fort Worth regions of Texas. Contact: (832)212-8735 today!

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BULLETIN: Meet Dr. Jack Evans, President of Southwest Christian College in Terrell, Texas

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We Would Like to Thank Dr. Jack Evans for Meeting with Jim Johnson


Dr. Jack Evans Sr. is a native of Houston, Texas. He was baptized into Christ in 1953 at the age of 15 by the late Paul Settles. He began preaching at the age of 16. After attending the public schools of Houston for 9 years, he transferred to the Nashville Christian Institute in Nashville, Tennessee, of which the eminent Marshall Keeble was President at this time. He graduated from his high school in 1957. He then enrolled in Southwestern Christian College (SWCC), a junior college, of Terrell, Texas, from which he graduated in 1959. He served as the associate Minister of the College Church of Christ while attending Southwestern. 

After graduating from SWCC, Jack Evans Sr. enrolled in Eastern New Mexico University in Portales, New Mexico--majoring in History and Religion; he graduated from this university in 1961. He preached for a small congregation in Hale Center, Texas, while attending college in New Mexico. Upon graduation Dr. Evans began graduate work, in 1961, in History and English at the University of Texas (Texas Western College at the time) in El Paso, Texas. 

In 1963 he received his M.A. degree. His M.A. thesis was entitled "THE HISTORY OF SOUTHWESTERN CHRISTIAN COLLEGE OF TERRELL, TEXAS." He was the Minister of the Cebada St. Church of Christ in El Paso while attending graduate school. He has had conferred upon him the Doctor of Laws (LL.D) degrees by Harding University, Pepperdine University, and Abilene Christian University. 

Dr. Evans became Dean of SWCC in 1963. He served in this capacity and as an instructor in History for 4 years. In 1967, he was appointed President of Southwestern Christian College, thus becoming the first Afro-American president of the only predominantly black Christian College among churches of Christ. He is presently serving in this capacity. SWCC became fully accredited under his administration in 1973. He is listed in the Who's Who in American College and University Administration and Who's Who in Texas Today. He is a member of the Board of Directors of David Lipscomb University. 

Dr. Evans has spoken on all the major lectureships of Christian colleges and in special seminars and meetings on other college campuses. He conducts gospel meetings and crusades in churches of Christ through out the nation, and has participated in a number of religious debates. 

He is the author/editor of the Evans-Barr Debate, the Curing of Ham, the Cross or the Crescent, Sermons that Save, Sinai or Zion?, The Two Covenants; and co-author with Dr. James Maxell, of Divorce and Remarriage, and with G.P. Holt, of Sermons of the Crusades. 

Jack Evans Sr. is married to Patricia Evans of Nashville, Tennessee. They have three sons, Jack Jr., Herbert Raye and David Paul. They have two grandsons, Jack Evans III, and Brandon Jamal.

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About Jim Johnson

Jim Johnson is responsible for the global growth and expansion of all Aubrey R. Taylor Communications products, publications and services. He is currently charged with growing and expanding the Houston Dallas Fort Worth Business Connections Magazine footprint in Texas. Johnson is also the founder and CEO of Better Marketing Concepts, LLC and is supported by some of the best international business consultants in the world. His travels and associations worldwide have afforded him the opportunity to create and maintain strong relationships with powerful people in both the corporate and political worlds. Jim Johnson has developed a unique approach, working with small and large firms, and governmental entities -- each approach is customized and strategic in nature. After spending more than 25-years working in corporate America representing firms such as International Telephone & Telegraph, Aramco Services Company, Texaco, and The Anheuser Bush Companies, Johnson has gained vast knowledge and a keen understanding of how Corporate America works.

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About the Houston Dallas Fort Worth Business Connections Magazine

Published for "People On The Move" by Aubrey R. Taylor Communications, The Houston Dallas Fort Worth Business Connections Magazine is focused on empowering, inspiring, promoting, highlighting, and informing people striving to reach their full potential in their personal and professional endeavors. This statewide magazine is focused on Business, Politics, Education, Religion and Health with a targeted emphasis on the Houston, Dallas and Fort Worth regions of Texas. Contact: (832)212-8735 today!

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CLICK HERE TO VIEW THIS EDITION OF HOUSTON DALLAS FORT WORTH BUSINESS CONNECTIONS MAGAZINE

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BULLETIN: Mayor Hal Richards of Terrell, Texas Believes Business Owners, Residents of Terrell Should Always Be Informed About Why Their City Operates the Way it Does

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We Would Like to Thank Mayor Hal Richards of Terrell, Texas for Meeting with Jim Johnson


The City of Terrell, Texas has developed a unique way of keeping residents and business owners in-touch and informed in the city of Terrell. Any resident or business owner with residing in the Terrell city limits can simply visit www.cityofterrell.org and ask Mayor Richards a question and have the answer posted right on the home page of the city’s website. 

Do you have a question about City Government? Have you ever wondered why your city operates the way that it does? Well, if you live in Terrell, Texas you can get a quick answer by asking your mayor today!

The City of Terrell is located in Kaufman County in the state of Texas. Terrell is approximately 25 miles east of Dallas on Interstate Highway 20 and U.S. Highway 80.

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About Jim Johnson

Jim Johnson is responsible for the global growth and expansion of all Aubrey R. Taylor Communications products, publications and services. He is currently charged with growing and expanding the Houston Dallas Fort Worth Business Connections Magazine footprint in Texas. Johnson is also the founder and CEO of Better Marketing Concepts, LLC and is supported by some of the best international business consultants in the world. His travels and associations worldwide have afforded him the opportunity to create and maintain strong relationships with powerful people in both the corporate and political worlds. Jim Johnson has developed a unique approach, working with small and large firms, and governmental entities -- each approach is customized and strategic in nature. After spending more than 25-years working in corporate America representing firms such as International Telephone & Telegraph, Aramco Services Company, Texaco, and The Anheuser Bush Companies, Johnson has gained vast knowledge and a keen understanding of how Corporate America works.

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About the Houston Dallas Fort Worth Business Connections Magazine

Published for "People On The Move" by Aubrey R. Taylor Communications, The Houston Dallas Fort Worth Business Connections Magazine is focused on empowering, inspiring, promoting, highlighting, and informing people striving to reach their full potential in their personal and professional endeavors. This statewide magazine is focused on Business, Politics, Education, Religion and Health with a targeted emphasis on the Houston, Dallas and Fort Worth regions of Texas. Contact: (832)212-8735 today!

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CLICK HERE TO VIEW THIS EDITION OF HOUSTON DALLAS FORT WORTH BUSINESS CONNECTIONS MAGAZINE

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BULLETIN: Meet Patrick McCrea, Owner of Doe Belly's Catfish Cafe in Forney, Texas

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We Would Like to Thank Patrick McCrea, Owner of the Doe Belly’s in Forney, Texas for Being So Nice to Jim Johnson During His Visit at Doe Belly’s Catfish Café


Doe Belly's Catfish Café is a family owned and operated restaurant. The business was started by husband and wife team Patrick (architect) and Monica McCrea (credit analyst) in their (8x14) concession trailer over two years ago. Patrick and Monica attended festivals and sporting events as a mobile food vendor serving catfish, shrimp, and chicken tender baskets along with some of the side vegetables the still serve today.

The McCrea's began to notice how people really enjoyed their food and decided to take a chance and establish a physical location for their very own restaurant. So they acquired the lease of an old Sonic building and renovated the interior of the property. With a few months of hard labor and preparation, the finally opened the doors for business on August 17, 2009.

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About Jim Johnson

Jim Johnson is responsible for the global growth and expansion of all Aubrey R. Taylor Communications products, publications and services. He is currently charged with growing and expanding the Houston Dallas Fort Worth Business Connections Magazine footprint in Texas. Johnson is also the founder and CEO of Better Marketing Concepts, LLC and is supported by some of the best international business consultants in the world. His travels and associations worldwide have afforded him the opportunity to create and maintain strong relationships with powerful people in both the corporate and political worlds. Jim Johnson has developed a unique approach, working with small and large firms, and governmental entities -- each approach is customized and strategic in nature. After spending more than 25-years working in corporate America representing firms such as International Telephone & Telegraph, Aramco Services Company, Texaco, and The Anheuser Bush Companies, Johnson has gained vast knowledge and a keen understanding of how Corporate America works.

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About the Houston Dallas Fort Worth Business Connections Magazine

Published for "People On The Move" by Aubrey R. Taylor Communications, The Houston Dallas Fort Worth Business Connections Magazine is focused on empowering, inspiring, promoting, highlighting, and informing people striving to reach their full potential in their personal and professional endeavors. This statewide magazine is focused on Business, Politics, Education, Religion and Health with a targeted emphasis on the Houston, Dallas and Fort Worth regions of Texas. Contact: (832)212-8735 today!

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CLICK HERE TO VIEW THIS EDITION OF HOUSTON DALLAS FORT WORTH BUSINESS CONNECTIONS MAGAZINE

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