Leadership

An effective leader is someone with the ability to guide others with integrity, confidence, accountability and passion. They must be a strong communicator and an inspiration to others.

I have strived to do this as a man and as a politician to lead by example.

I believe actions speak louder than words.

I have had the privilege of serving the hard-working citizens of District 139 and the State of Texas in the 85th legislative session.

Since taking office in January 2017, I wrote, co-authored, sponsored or co-sponsored 65 bills.

The Texas House of Representatives is made up of 95 Republicans and 55 Democrats. I was able to reach across the aisle and work with Republicans to get 19 of these bills passed. I believe that it is possible and necessary to work together with those who may not share all the same beliefs for the purpose of making a greater change.

One of these changes is House Bill 374 — it is putting vocational education back in schools, giving young people a finish line they are able to see.

Wanting to do all I can to guarantee their success, I helped create two apprenticeship schools.

Throughout my first term, I was able to register 800 new voters reminding constituents that every voice matters.

I have organized an adoption fair that will take place on April 7th at Bella Vista Missionary Baptist Church to make sure our children do not age out of Child Protective Services (CPS).

Children who age out of CPS have a 98 percent chance of going to prison. We have to give our young people a better chance than this. They deserve it. They are our future.

I have held four senior citizen events, touching over 1500 seniors. We must always remember to take care of those who have paved the way for us to give flowers to the living.

No one must be forgotten especially in times of disaster.

As we all know, thousands of Texans were displaced from their homes and their jobs after Hurricane Harvey. Although I traveled over 2500 miles across the State of Texas, was able to personally help 80 people with clothing, food and housing repairs, as well as get over $10,000 donated to aid the Harvey victims, there is still more work to be done.

This is why I have proposed House Bill 312 – Establishment of a Disaster Recovery Fund.

House Bill 312 will amend the Government Code to establish a Disaster Recovery Fund account. This additional assistance funding will be allocated in times of extraordinary burdens to state and local entities as well as volunteer fire departments in areas where the Governor has declared a

state of disaster. This additional funding will help relieve the fiscal burden placed on local communities during times of disaster.

No one can afford to wait for the government to take action while suffering through a natural disaster. People are literally on the streets and entire cities are going bankrupt. When cities are without a workforce and unable to do business, the city suffers, and the state suffers. We are losing tax dollars.

Moreover, I have tried to do all I can to help people rebuild their lives and put Houstonians back to work with good jobs that allow them to proudly provide for their families.

To prove this point, I recently held a job fair in addition to two other job fairs that helped over 750 people — with a turnout of 748 job seekers that resulted in 464 interviews. Over 200 of these people received jobs or a call back for a second interview.

I am giving you these numbers to prove that I am always willing to do the work.

I thank you for believing in me and what I stand for. It is because of you that I am never satisfied and will always use my position to help others while striving to make the great State of Texas a better place. I thank you for believing in criminal justice reform, improving education and making sure our citizens never go without a voice — and that Texans are properly taken care of.

Re-elect me as your state representative for District 139 so that I can continue to fight for you and lead with integrity, confidence, accountability and passion.

Early voting continues through March 2nd. I am counting on you to use your voice.

Hurricane Harvey hit on August 25, 2017 Where is the housing promised to Texans?

The State of Texas has many suggested solutions to our Hurricane Harvey emergency housing issue. Why are we not moving forward?

As the State Representative for District 139 who sits on the Housing and Urban Affairs Sub Committee, I have traveled the devastated areas impacted by Hurricane Harvey. I, along with my committee members, have held six legislative hearings to listen to the issues plaguing municipalities, as well as their constituencies so that we can better provide them with the necessary resources from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and subsequently the General Land Office (GLO).

I am outraged and cannot find all the necessary words to describe the lack of accountability by government.

Hurricane Harvey made landfall on August 25, 2017. That is over four months ago.
According to
Time Magazine, more than 300,000 people were left without electricity and billions

of dollars of property damage was sustained throughout Texas.
The growing number of confirmed fatalities has reached 89 as of January 7, 2018.

By August 29, 2017, approximately 13,000 people had been rescued across the state. An estimated 30,000 others were displaced.

The Texas Department of Public Safety stated more than 185,000 homes were damaged and 9,000 destroyed.

What has been done to help rebuild people’s lives? Not enough!

I was moved to write this piece after receiving a Twitter post by the General Land Office showing trailers being provided to two families out of the thousands impacted with thecaption, “All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth and to have a home again.

It is appalling that GLO the fiscal agent charged with the responsibility of providing a safe living environment for our Texas residents would joke about someone having been displaced over four months ago.

There is absolutely nothing funny about being homeless after a disaster. There is nothing funny about those responsible for remedying the situation taking four months to make miniscule moves in the right direction.

The lack of response to victims of Hurricane Harvey, whose lives have been uprooted and completely devastated, is criminal.

I have had several discussions with GLO and FEMA regarding the delay getting people into

emergency housing. They have resorted to the age-old tale of blaming those who are not present and cannot defend the accusation.

As it stands, Texas is the 10th largest economy in the world according to politifact.com, yet we lack the ability, or dare I say choose, to care for those who are most vulnerable among us.

This is unconscionable and not representative of whom we are as a state nor as a nation.

How is it possible for GLO to spend 1.5 billion dollars on hotel vouchers where 15,027 residents are being housed in over 1,000 different hotels across the state post Hurricane Harvey but they lack the resources to place these same residents in temporary housing that allow for a more stable and secure environment?

According to an article in The Houston Chronicle written in November 2017, more than 9,500 Texas families had qualified for some form of additional temporary housing assistance. Only one had been able to move back into a home repaired through FEMA’s program, and 223 were living in a trailer or mobile home.

At this point, the state failed to identify a single multifamily property owner willing to participate in its rental programs. Furthermore, Texas Public Radio reported three months after Hurricane Harvey there are still people living in tents along the Texas Coast.

This is all in the name of being considered “small government.”

Private industry has done more to assist the people of the City of Houston, than those charged with the responsibility to do so. I know, personally, of a small business that has donated over $150,000 worth of emergency temporary housing in the form of shipping container mobile unitsto families who were in need. This is what being “Texas Strong” is all about – reaching out and lending a helping hand to those who are in need.

One immediate solution would be to use the rainy day funds. The Texas Tribune informs us that the State of Texas has accumulated over $10 Billion from taxpayers’ dollars in a “Rainy Day Fund,” to be used for times of economic distress.

What better time to tap into these funds, than for a catastrophic natural disaster caused by….RAIN. With these funds, we no longer have to wait for GLO to move forward, we can then partner with private industry to provide temporary housing solutions as they have already done.

We must move forward implementing solutions.

State government should forge partnerships with private industry. In Texas, especially the Gulf Coast region, the question is never, Is there going to be another storm?” It is “When WILL thenext storm come?” Sadly, we would not want to have Hurricane Harvey recovery still looming when the next catastrophic storm hits.

We better be prepared.
I proposed a Disaster Recovery Bill that will help citizens tremendously while waiting on

FEMA. House Bill 312 – Establishment of a Disaster Recovery Fund.

House Bill 312 will amend the Government Code to establish a Disaster Recovery Fund account. This additional assistance funding will be allocated in times of extraordinary burdens to state and local entities, and volunteer fire departments in areas where the governor has declared a state of disaster. This additional funding will help relieve the fiscal burden placed on local communities during times of disaster.

No one can afford to wait for the government to take action while suffering through a natural disaster. People are literally on the streets and entire cities are going bankrupt. When cities are without a workforce and unable to do business, the city suffers, and the state suffers. We are losing tax dollars.

I urge my committee members to join me in demanding solutions be implemented. ###

Black History Month

By now, all of us in Houston, the home of NASA, are more than familiar with the inspiring true story, Hidden Figures, of three extraordinary Black women Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson who helped America win the Space Race.

It is the kind of story that all too often is only told during the Black History Month of February.

The best-selling book by Margot Lee Shetterly, which was turned into an Academy Award- nominated film, opened the eyes of little girls across America, let them dream that they, too, can change the world and reminded us all that Black History is American History.

One cannot fully understand America without reference to African Americans. To appreciate the Constitution, to understand the Civil War, and to make sense of present-day political realities, requires understanding of the history shaped through the interactions of African Americans with other cultures.

So why is it that the other 11 months of the year do not reflect this undeniable truth?

Black History Month predominantly survives out of neglect. Schools too often shortchange the pivotal contributions of African Americans and other minorities. Either by design or default, history is diluted for all learners skimming over painful episodes while marginalizing the contributions of African Americans and people of color.

When we begin to accurately teach the history of all the people in an integrated and balanced way, we will no longer need Black History Month, Hispanic History Month, and so on.

Furthermore, we must look at how the media contributes to this. The majority of African Americans we see in television shows are still shown in a negative light as lawbreakers, asthose who don’t value education and family.

And yet, we continue to make history and impact the world in a positive way. One example came in 2008 when the first ever Black president, Barack Obama, was elected. He served two terms and was not surrounded by scandal like our current so-called leader is.

Obama made a considerable effort to reach across the aisle and work with Republicans. He believed, as I do, that it is possible to work together with those who may not share all the same beliefs to make a greater change.

Obama never negatively referenced someone’s country of origin nor has he tried to pit minorities against one another. He did and still believes in dreamers.

Moreover, his example went beyond the political realm. Barack and Michelle changed the narrative of the Black couple and family. They showed to the masses what we already know but is seldom shown to the world that there is such thing as an educated and loving Black family.

The positive image and example set by the Obamas prompted me to hold an essay contest for students ages 13 to 18 years old.

I want to hear from young people as to why they believe it is important that more positive images are shown of Black people in television, movies and music. I want to know what they are doing to ensure their communities continue to take strides in the right direction.

Cinema is taking these strides with the highly anticipated movie, Black Panther — making history, with almost an entirely Black cast.

Students must submit their essays by February 20th to JarvisJohnson.org. I am going to take the first 300 students who submit to see Black Panther.

I look forward to learning from these young minds.

Standing Strong Against Batch Plant

Asthma attacks. Cardiovascular disease. Tuberculosis. Lung cancer. These are just some of the effects of living next to a concrete batch plant.

I am fully opposed to having one of these toxic corporations in my district. I am doing everything in my power to keep the residents of Acres Homes out of danger.

On December 18, 2017, an application for an Air Quality Standard Permit to authorize construction of a permanent concrete batch plant located at 3411 De Soto St., Houston, Harris County, Texas 77091, was submitted to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) from Soto Ready Mix, Incorporation.

This location is near Greater Inwood and Acres Homes. A notice of this application was provided to the public on January 18, 2018.

Air Alliance-Houston – a nonprofit organization seeking to reduce air pollution in the Houston area through research, education, and advocacy – contacted my office to inform us of health and environmental issues associated with the establishment of this batch plant in a residential area.

My office immediately contacted TCEQ to request a public meeting.

The public meeting with Soto Ready Mix, INC., and representatives from TCEQ’s permit division was held on Monday, March 26th at 7 P.M. at the Acres Homes Multiservice Center.

Over 200 concerned constituents showed up and 27 formal comments were made on record.

The residents of District 139 made it clear that they will not simply sit back and let this happen. I empathized with every single one of them as they expressed their fear for their children’s livesand their own.

We have to continue to stick together in this fight. I need you all to show up in these same numbers throughout this process.

The “Plan B” that I introduced at the closing of the meeting is not a pro-batch plant plan, it is a pro-regulation plan. It is merely an effort to ensure that in the event the permit is granted, Soto Ready Mix, INC., will have to go above and beyond the minimal standards currently proposed in the application.

As many of you have witnessed, the applicant, Soto Ready Mix, INC., has already begun some operations at this location that have caused public nuisance. If the permit is denied, I am anticipating Soto Ready Mix, INC., will continue this operation without regulation.

It is my understanding that TCEQ is not in the regular practice of denying permits to applicants. Although the regulation and complaint system for TCEQ is not the best, IF they do unfortunately grant the permit (again, this is NOT what I want), the permit will allow us as citizens to ensure Soto Ready Mix is held accountable for its operations.

Additionally, securing a contested case hearing will allow us, as residents in this community, to negotiate our demands.

I will work with the county and the City of Houston to make sure they do not grant permits to companies like this before TCEQ is able to so. I want to stop them in their tracks.

One of my main goals in the 86th session is to pass legislation that will prevent communities from being subjected to such harm. No one should have to fight for clean, breathable air.

Teachers

Thank you to all of my supporters who helped send me back to Austin where I can continue to proudly serve the hard-working citizens of District 139 and the State of Texas. I am truly blessed and honored to remain as your state representative.

The fight to protect all of you from evil spirits in office such as Governor Greg Abbott and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick who want to essentially bring MORE guns into ourchildren’s schools by arming our teachers – must go on.

These men are of course falling in line behind the so-called leadership of our president.

Dry erase markers. Pens and pencils. Lesson plans for the week. These are necessary supplies to arm our teachers with not guns.

A teacher is a person who helps others to acquire knowledge, competences or values. Nowhere in their job description does it say, “be prepared to open fire in a classroom” or “will confront amadman without hesitation.”

If only Republicans felt the same, then teachers with guns would not even be a possibility for our harsh reality.

President Trump has listened to multiple survivors of school shootings and to families of those who lost their lives in these tragedies begging for a solution not more guns.

He was not moved and, in another attempt to show what he seems to think is strength, wants to answer violence with more violence tweeting “If a potential ‘sicko shooter’ knows that a schoolhas a large number of weapons talented teachers (and others) who will be instantly shooting, the sicko will NEVER attack that school.”

I wish the president would instead listen to the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “Darknesscannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can dothat.”

Mentally challenged individuals will carry out their plans no matter who has a gun.

An untrained educator, armed or not, will do what most us would when shots ring out duck and run for cover. We cannot expect a novice to be able to take aim to stop a shooter without potentially hitting an innocent bystander.

How will a parent react when they are told their child was killed by a teacher trying to stop a shooter from killing other students?

Will that teacher be considered a hero or a murderer?

We have trained law enforcement who are responsible for maintaining public safety and security. And even they fall short.

In the recent massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, Deputy Scot Peterson remained outside for over four minutes. The shooting lasted approximately six minutes.

Peterson’s job as the school’s resource officer was to ensure everyone on the Marjory StonemanDouglas campus was safe at all times. He was trained. He was armed. And he hesitated.

Peterson froze. We all can only wonder how many lives could have been spared had he gone in. How can we expect an untrained teacher to react differently?
We can’t.

Let’s arm our teachers with a better teacher to student ratio in the classroom and better pay not guns.