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2015

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Volume 20

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Issue Number 1

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Quarterly newsletter published for city of Houston employees

www.citysavvy.org

Hope for the homeless Special HPD unit shepherds the lost, lifts the lonely

By Elise Rambaud Marrion

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the shadowy spaces under downtown Houston freeway overpasses, a community comes to life in the early morning hours. Residents of this slice of Houston’s homeless population emerge as another raw night gives way to the early light of morning, the roar of traffic and the rhythmic thud of cars passing mere feet overhead. Their camps — strewn with pallets, blankets, bottles, cans, clothes and even animal and human waste — offer a stark contrast to the gleaming glass and steel skyscrapers just blocks away. Many commuters overlook or avert their gaze from the homeless as they pass. But a special team of Houston Police Department officers does the opposite: They seek out and serve these invisible, and ignored Houstonians. “Every person who lives on the street is broken in some way,” said Steve Wick, a sergeant with the HPD Homeless Outreach Team. “After slipping through the cracks of society, they become invisible to the system. We help shepherd them back through the system, so they can get the services they need, and get off the streets.” City Savvy recently spent a day on the job with Wick and other homeless team officers Jaime Giraldo, Janice Terry, Sheldon Theragood and Colin Mansfield work with Cami West Puentes, Ashley Mullins and Deidre Kemble Charles, case managers from the Mental Health Mental Retardation Authority of Harris County. Restoring hope Launched as a pilot program in 2011, the team connects homeless people to local services — shelters, permanent housing, medical care, mental health treatment, See HPD UNIT on Page 11

Photos by Elise Marrion

Around the City . . . . . .

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Cartoon Contest . . . . . . . . Page 6 Saluting Vets . . . . . . .

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Heritage . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 8

Inside

International Series . . . Page 9 Hats Off . . . . . . . . . Page 12

Making tracks

Long route to Houston

METRO is preparing for service on new lines that run through downtown.

Wolf Guenthert took a longer route to employment with the City of Houston than most people. His started in Germany.

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02 AROUND THE CITY

Houston growth shapes officials’ vision for future By Lucha Morales

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place is booming more than the Bayou City. Citing the nation’s highest year-to-year job growth rate among other factors, Forbes ranked Houston at the top of its 2015 list of America’s Fastest-Growing Cities. Economic growth, domestic oil mining, corporate relocations, births, overall exports and a home-closing rate of one every six minutes has propelled the city into a growing frenzy over the last five years, according to the Forbes list released in January. The hot growth plus the changing needs of this rapidly expanding urban area prompted efforts to adopt a General Plan by August 2015. Now, city planners and more than 20 civic partners are collaborating on Plan Houston, a “Houston style” plan unique to the city’s needs and ideas. The new planning initiative will address how to effectively provide day-to-day services to residents in a high-growth area.  “There’s definitely a need for better planning in Houston to improve coordination between the city and a lot of our external partners,” said Patrick Walsh, director of the city’s Planning and Development Department. Plan Houston will identify the highest priority areas and where the city needs to delve a little deeper, Walsh said of the

ongoing process to revisit some of the city’s current strategies to provide day-today services. “It will let the city know how we are doing in terms of managing regional drainage, traffic, how we are doing in terms of providing adequate park space for our current or future residents, and how we are doing in terms of strategies to coordinate land use and support transportation,” Walsh said. A look at the numbers To determine the fastest growing metropolitan cities, Forbes’s looked at population growth, economic growth, median annual pay scales, and unemployment data. From 2013 to 2014, Houston led the nation in year-over-year job growth with a 4.5 percent increase. In that same year, Houston accounted for more than 30 percent of Texas’ job growth. The Greater Houston Partnership projected another 60,000-plus jobs for Houston in 2015 and cited manufacturing and energy as the city’s industry strengths. Also, more than 1 million people are expected to move to Houston over the next 20 years, according to the city’s planning department. Advocacy for the city to adopt a general plan dates back to the early ’90s with

Mayor Bob Lanier’s “Imagine Houston.” But the City Council never adopted a plan. Since 2002, the nonprofit Blueprint Houston has pushed for the city to adopt a general plan. “Blueprint has developed a lot of guiding documents for Plan Houston,” Walsh said. “The first thing we started nailing down was vision and goals for the city of Houston.” Now, draft vision and goals are complete, and participants are working on engaging residents on the project and determining strategies, the third of fiveproject milestones. Jennifer Ostilind, deputy assistant director for the planning department, said the draft vision includes work from Imagine Houston and Blueprint Houston. Employees’ insights solicited Employees from across city departments were invited to join the plan’s Technical Advisory Committee, Walsh said. “We want to make sure that we understand the needs of the various departments and have their support as we attempt to create a case for change. “The draft goals are related to people, place, culture, economy and public

services,” said Brian Crimmins, chief of staff, planning department. “These are high-level goals that we are asking the public to start digging into.” A steering committee made up of community representatives is helping to give the public a voice during the plan’s development process. “We’re reaching out to the community to make sure we’re on the right track in terms of describing what the city’s long-term outcome should be,” Walsh said. “For the first time, it’s going to put all the different planning efforts in one place for the public to know and interact with it,” Crimmins said. “We’re going to have an interactive planning coordination tool similar to My City, where it’s GIS based.” Crimmins said the new tool should provide a user-friendly way to link to the city. The plan will complement, not replace ongoing departmental or city plans. “It’s basically the umbrella plan that ties everything together,” Crimmins said. The public is invited to provide feedback on Plan Houston’s draft vision and goals via an online survey through Welcome to You By You, the city’s civil engagement website. Go to feedback.houstontx.gov/.

City employees’ generosity pushes CMC past $900,000 By Elise Rambaud Marrion

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he generosity of City of Houston employees is making this year brighter for nearly 800 charitable organizations — $910,264 brighter, to be exact. Employees stepped up their donations to the “Changing Lives, Launching Futures” campaign, exceeding last year’s total of $858,000 and this year’s citywide goal of $890,700. “CMC is getting bigger and better every year. We aren’t far from hitting that million-dollar mark, and I know we can make it next year,” said Nichole Robinson, CMC chair. “I think so many of our employees want to support our local and national agencies, but they often don’t know where to get started,” Robinson said. “CMC is a resource for employees to learn about the many charitable and volunteer opportunities in our community. It’s also an outlet for those agencies and organizations to get more exposure and support.” New and notable about this year’s campaign was the introduction of online donations through Employee Self Service System. Even though the system was

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new, online contributions — including one-time donations and payroll deductions — increased from $709,000 to $744,000. “There was a learning curve with the new system, but the coordinators were very patient with ESS training and diligent with entering hundreds of contributions by hand,” Robinson said. While food sales, talent shows, auctions and sports tournaments are always crowd favorites, Robinson noted that department fundraisers continue to get more creative. New events this year included Dunk your Director; PWE’s McKinney House of Horrors; and the quiz game show, “Who Wants to be Houstonaire,” a team effort between the Planning and Development Department, Office of Business Opportunity and Department of Neighborhoods. City departments also continued their annual friendly rivalry for CMC fundraising supremacy. The department with the most donations will be revealed at the CMC recognition luncheon in January, but the top five (unranked) include Aviation, PWE, Police, Fire, and Human Resources.

Photos by David Smith Employees took a spin at the CMC Fair and wound up surpassing their $900,000 goal. Mayor Annise Parker was in demand by employees who wanted to have their photos taken together at the CMC luncheon, middle left, and helped raise money by being a good sport at the dunking booth, center right. At left, the fundraising drive got off to a good start at the CMC Agency Fair.


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Photos by David Smith

Trains in training: METRO is on its way downtown By David Smith

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ractice makes perfect. METRO has its sights set on that high mark before allowing passengers to board light rail trains operating on new lines that will connect downtown with East End and southeast neighborhoods. METRO is now running training schedules the full length of the expanded East End (Green) and Southeast (Purple) lines to identify and solve glitches. Systems and schedules must work smoothly and meet federal certification guidelines before opening to the public. METRO officials expect to begin accepting passengers by late May. Once the trains are certified and open to the public, they will run daily from about 4 a.m. to after midnight, usually concluding service for the night around 1 a.m. Meantime, downtown pedestrians and drivers are beginning to get used to METRO trains being in heretofore unfamiliar territory. Unlike most of the train routes, the downtown lines involve sharing the road. METRO trains will travel up Capitol and back down Rusk in a live lane of traffic, along with normal vehicular traffic. That will mean motorists have to navigate downtown traffic with an extra measure of caution and awareness. METRO officials have worked to educate people who work and live downtown about how to share the affected lanes and be aware of the trains. Also, signs have been posted around downtown with instructions for motorists and pedestrians.

That sounds close Since the Main Street line, now called the Red Line, opened in 2004, downtowners have grown very accustomed to the sleek, silver trains and their now-familiar horns announcing their arrival at intersections and stations along that principal corridor bisecting the city center.

Beginning just a few weeks ago, though, people could be excused for wondering if they were hearing things when that recognizable horn tone and the rumble of the heavy cars sounded loud and clear, as if it might be right next to them, even though they were nowhere near Main Street. There was, of course, a simple explanation: trains were beginning practice runs on the new light rail lines along Capitol and Rusk streets connecting downtown with the East End and southeast neighborhoods. METRO expanded its practice runs downtown in January. They had been going on further out on the two new lines for months. The current training schedule is

six days a week from about 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. “Right now we’re in testing mode. When they go live, people will see trains running 24/7,” said Linda Trevino, METRO’s senior stakeholder affairs representative to downtown Houston. Trevino said METRO must achieve 1,000 hours of testing on the new lines to meet Federal Transportation Administration guidelines before the trains begin accepting passengers. That should occur in time for METRO to open them to the public in April. Spreading the word Trevino and METRO Senior Director of Rail Scott Grogan outlined the latest anticipated schedule and answered questions from downtown businesspeople in mid-February at one of many meetings intended to educate the public about the train lines. “We want to interface with all the constituents,” Grogan said. Grogan cited a conversation he had with representatives of the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts about how the presence of trains along Rusk and Capitol adjacent to the performance hall might affect people attending two shows one recent Saturday. “We will do that with any other stakeholder that has a special event,” he said, noting that METRO’s scheduling is taking into consideration large crowds attending events at Minute-Maid Stadium (primarily Astros games), BBVA Compass Stadium (Houston Dynamo soccer and Texas Southern football), the Toyota Center (Rockets and concerts) and the George R. Brown Convention Center.

Also, signs promoting awareness and safety have been placed in buildings and parking garages downtown. Scheduling frequency When the new lines open to passengers in April, there will be a 12-minute interval between trains on the Green and Purple lines from their outermost points of origin to where they merge on the southeast edge of downtown. As the EE trains and SE trains come into downtown and both run up Capitol and back down Rusk, train service in the downtown area will be on six-minute intervals. The Green EE Line originates on Harrisburg Boulevard past Lockwood and eventually will be extended past Cesar Chavez/67th Street to the Magnolia Park Transit Center. The Purple SE Line originates at the Palm Center Transit Center southeast of the University of Houston campus. The two lines will come together at BBVA Compass Stadium in the EaDo neighborhood.

THE RULES OF THE RAILS Watch for trains. Don’t walk on tracks, except when crossing at crosswalks. Obey all traffic signs and signals around tracks. Light rail trains are quiet. Stay alert. Never walk in front of, behind or between trains. Beware as trains are approaching. Trains can move quickly, but they can’t stop fast. Respect red lights. Listen for horns, whistles and signal bells. Follow lane markings in lanes shared by cars.

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04 AROUND THE CITY

Photos by Heidi Bane & Lucha Morales

City helps good dental hygiene take root in second-graders By Lucha Morales

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any parents treasure the moment a child loses a baby tooth. And smiles and giggles are common among children who tuck a lost tooth under their pillow. That’s because losing a tooth could mean a visit from the tooth fairy, a folklore character that is believed to exchange a lost tooth for money while children sleep. Yet for many adults, there is no milestone celebration that occurs when a tooth falls out. Many times, a lost tooth is the result of tooth decay or diabetes, a chronic health disease that causes high blood sugar and increases the risk of cavities and gum disease. “People who turn 60 and beyond, about one third have no natural teeth,” said Janet A. Aikins, planning chief for the city’s Project Saving Smiles program. An initiative of the city’s Health and Human Services Department, Project Saving Smiles provides free dental screenings, dental sealants, and oral health education to Houston’s at-risk second graders. This school year, the program is running its longest mission since its inception in 2008, holding a series of eight week-long campaigns during the current school year.

With Video

Aikins, who also serves as a staff analyst for HDHHD, believes targeting second graders is the best approach to preventing tooth decay. “Knowing the age at which permanent teeth appear seemed to be a plausible approach,” she said. According to a 2001 Dental Needs Assessment, more than 50 percent of prekindergarten children and 45 percent of second grade children in Harris County had untreated tooth decay. “We go to schools where at least 70 percent of students are on the free and reduce lunch program,” she said. “We pick out children that are between the ages of 7 to 8.” “These are children with new permanent teeth that have come out,” Aikins said. “If we don’t protect them, they could decay,” said Aikins of the second graders’ new permanent molars. Last year, more than 160 HISD schools participated, with the program providing

Dr. Johanna DeYoung, bureau chief for oral health with HDHS, left, and Katrina Matthews, an HDHS senior health educator, right, helped make Project Saving Smiles a success. Inset, a health educator discusses oral hygiene with the students.

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oral heath education and services to more than 7,000 children in need. Children who are recruited for the program ride buses to the Good Neighbor Healthcare Center, a non-profit United Way health care agency located within HDHHS’ West End Health Center in the Houston heights. Once the children arrive, they receive dental screenings and dentists determine what teeth need sealants, a plastic coating that helps prevent cavities. “Whether their teeth were sealed or not, they receive education,” Aikins said. “We do an oral health education test to see how much the kids know about their oral health before we do the class,” said senior health educator Katrima Matthews, who leads 30-minute oral health education sessions that teach children about healthy eating habits, teeth sealants, and how to brush and floss. “Then after the end of our presentation

we do a post test to see what the kids have learned, to see if there was an increase n knowledge,” she said. Matthews, along with more than 60 HDHHS volunteer staff members help out each day of a campaign. “It’s a benefit for the kids and the parents,” said Matthews of the children who wouldn’t have access to oral health services otherwise. “I really believe this is making a difference in the kids’ lives.” “If we can prevent tooth decay now and tooth loss,” said Aikins. “We are looking at a long-term investment that we cannot imagine.” Since 2008, more than 600 HISD schools have participated in the program and more than 25, 000 children have received dental screenings. Of those children, 86 percent were in need of sealants. “Regardless of where you’re from and your background, you are supposed to keep your natural teeth,” Aikins said. “It’s a health indicator.” To learn more about Projects Saving Smiles log on to houstontx.gov/health/ saving_smiles.html.


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Employees key to OneHouston savings initiative By David Smith

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hile urging the federal government to economize when it came to spending, the late U.S. Sen. Everett Dirksen, R-Ill., famously said, “A million here, a million there, pretty soon, you’re talking real money.” The same can be said of just a few dollars, or even a few cents. Though hardly noticeable initially, save a little here and there and you can gradually make a big difference. With city officials forecasting a budget deficit next year, employees who find ways to save money will greatly mitigate the shortfall. That’s the message Jesse Bounds and Mimi Xi are taking to the work force. The two Finance Department members are helping lead the new OneHouston initiative to make City of Houston government more financially efficient. OneHouston is a collaborative effort in which Finance joined with many departments and offices, including the Mayor’s Office, HTV, the Houston Public Library and the Sustainability Office. Every little bit helps OneHouston aims to educate and encourage all employees to save money

through simple, daily cost-cutting measures. The OneHouston website, performance.houstontx.gov/onehouston, goes into greater detail, and program administrators are rolling out a series of videos that describe and demonstrate how easy it is to save money. The theory goes, if enough people save enough cents, dollars, make fewer copies, turn off a light switch, then the city ultimately will save many thousands of dollars. One source of savings is cell phones and plans. Some employees who have COH cell phones find that they don’t use them very often. OneHouston calls on those who rarely use their city-issued phones to relinquish them. By eliminating about 750 cell phone plans over the past three months, the city has already saved some $250,000, Bounds said. The tip of the iceberg. “How can we realize savings, that’s the question,” Bounds said. “Our thought is if you know about a savings opportunity, we need to act on it.” So OneHouston is gearing up and spreading the gospel of fiscal responsibility.

Communication is the key. Bounds and Xi are steering people to the OneHouston website and supporting videos. If city employees buy in to the initiative, the city’s savings will be serious. In addition to reducing cell phones and personal electronic devices, OneHouston has targeted other savings sources that can add up to major savings: printing and copying in black and white instead of color; energy tips, from turning lights off putting your computer into sleep mode when you’re going to be away from your desk for any length of time, instead of letting it go to screensaver mode. Other ways include asset disposal; the Lean Six Sigma work process efficiency program; and a method for employees to suggest efficiency and cost-saving ideas. Bounds said employees will make the initiative work. “Employees are the city’s best asset. They know their processes best,” he said. “We need to engage and empower them.”

WHAT IS

ONE HOUSTON? One Houston is a new initiative that encourages employees to adopt simple, cost-saving measures throughout their work life. As more employees make small changes to their work routines, the cumulative effect will have a major impact for the city.

“How can we realize savings, that’s the question. Our thought is if you know about a savings opportunity, we need to act on it.” JESSE BOUNDS

BARC joins Finding Rover app pack Locating lost dogs is only an upload away

HOW IT WORKS:

By Elise Rambaud Marrion

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ost dog owners experience sheer panic at least once. That’s the moment your beloved pet is nowhere to be found. You run out the door, take off down the street calling and whistling, search the neighborhood, notify family, neighbors, veterinarians, shelters and rescues. You post on social media and start making fliers. But you still feel powerless. Now, a new partnership between BARC and a mobile app called Finding Rover can give you more control and make recovering a lost dog faster and easier. The free app, available on Android and Apple devices, uses facial recognition software and a network of pet organizations to reunite dogs with their owners. BARC is the fourth shelter in the nation to integrate the Finding Rover app into its systems and the first shelter in Houston. Friends for Life, a local no-kill shelter, is also collaborating with Finding Rover. When a dog is lost, Finding Rover alerts

BARC, local dog organizations, nearby app members, and social media outlets. The app also allows good Samaritans who find a lost dog to snap photos and send alerts. Finding Rover d o e s n ’t r e p l a c e traditional methods of pet ID such as collars, tags and microchips, but it enhances their effectiveness and offers another line of defense, said Ashtyn Rivet, BARC marketing and outreach manager. “Pet owners frequently forget to register their pets’ microchips or update their contact information,” Rivet said. “Most dog owners have a picture of their pet on their phone. Uploading a photo of your dog into Finding Rover now could help save your dog if it ever gets lost in the future.” If you have trouble taking a clear forward facing photo of your dog, Finding

Rover has a special feature – a barking sound effect that is designed to get your dog’s attention, while you snap the photo. App members can also browse for adoptable pets, learn dog training, health tips and DIY dog food recipes, find dogfriendly parks and enter photo contests. Since the app was launched in Houston in late February, the Finding Rover community has grown to 3,600 Houstonians. At press time, Rivet said BARC is waiting for its first happy reunion. “It’s still early, but strength is in numbers, she said. “The more people we get to use the app, the more effective it will be. I encourage everyone to tell your friends and family about Finding Rover.”

1. Start by registering your pet on Android and iPhone devises or the website.

2. If your pet gets lost, report

it on Finding Rover. The facial recognition technology will help locate your pet, even if it is at a shelter.

3. If you find a lost pet, snap

a photo and enter it into the Finding Rover app. The owner’s contact information will appear if the pet is registered in the app by its owner.

4.

Share photos with friends through the app or search for adoptable pets at a local shelter.

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06 AROUND THE CITY

Cartoon Caption Contest Employees march to ‘toon’ of different drummer, show off their wit in the CITY SAVVY

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ow do city employees react when the Grim Reaper steps onto a bus? Or when a giant snail enters a foot race? They get witty. A City Savvy contest started in 2014 that challenges employees to provide a clever caption to a cartoon. Readers then vote on the top entries. Take a look at the 2014 winners. Are you ready to put your wit to the test? Check out the cartoon caption contest in the online City Savvy at: cohemployeenews.com/a-bit-of-fun/caption-contest.

CONTEST 3 WINNER

CONTEST 1 CONTEST 2

WINNER

WINNER

Maria Irshad ARA

Bob Nowak HITS

CAPTION

“The sign said slow runners to the right! Sheesh, move it!”

Gloria Moreno Finance

CAPTION

“Look mom, mansticks for lunch!”

CAPTION

“Casual Friday productivity has declined. I want answers!”

CONTEST 6

CONTEST 4

WINNER

WINNER

Emery Johnston

CONTEST 5

PWE

CAPTION

“What do you mean? I can have the scraps!”

PWE

WINNER

CAPTION

Anna Luckenbach

“OK OK! No need for the scare tactics - I already completed my health assessment!”

PWE

CAPTION

“I’ve heard your daily special is out of this world.”

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Anna Luckenbach


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Photos by David Smith

Houston saluted for answering call to duty, aiding veterans By Elise Rambaud Marrion

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he City of Houston’s Office of Veteran Affairs is closer to accomplishing its mission of being unrivaled when it comes to serving active military, veterans and their families. The city’s service is so superior, in fact, a respected military association saluted it for everything it does for veterans. The Association of the United States Army (AUSA) has named the City of Houston the most veteran-friendly city in the nation and awarded it the Distinguished Service Award. This comes on the heels of last year’s top spot in USAA’s 2013 Top 10 Places for Veterans. Rick Wade, president of the AUSA Houston Metroplex chapter, said the organization usually nominates an individual, but decided to break tradition to honor the city’s body of work on behalf of the United States Army. “The chapter has enjoyed meaningful and productive interface with numerous city agencies in the administration of Mayor Annise Parker,” Wade said. “Mayor Parker and her staff continually place the highest priority on Army support and advocacy.” Carl Salazar, director of the city’s Office of Veterans Affairs, said this latest award continues to make Houston a destination

for veterans to live and seek employment. “This award is further confirmation that the City of Houston is doing meaningful work to support both veterans and military service members and their families,” Salazar said. “Our office is actively working with partners to end chronic veteran homelessness, increase gainful employment for vets and their families, and address physical and mental health in this community.” In addition to community efforts, Salazar said the Office of Veterans Affairs is also working on a few initiatives to benefit veteran employees and veteran job candidates. “The city has a veteran hiring preference, but too often hiring managers have trouble interpreting veterans’ resumes,” Salazar said. “ We have done several training sessions with Human Resources so it’s easier to understand how a veteran’s experience is applicable for city jobs.” The Office of Veteran Affairs is also in the process of creating a formal veterans network among employees. “You see a lot of social veterans networks among private sector companies,” Salazar said. “By showing that these companies value their veterans, these groups help recruit and retain highly qualified veterans.”

No one knows how to show their appreciation to the nation’s war veterans better than the City of Houston. At the city’s Veterans Day parade in the fall, present met past, above, and disabled veterans had a place center stage. But when the parades come to a close, the city continues to honor veterans year-round by promoting hiring services, addressing homelessness and more.

City modernizes financial policies By David Smith

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he City of Houston is keeping up with the times — the financial times, that is. Aiming to ensure ongoing and future fiscal stability and responsibility in an evolving economy, city leaders have adopted new financial policies to guide budget development beginning with the next fiscal year, which starts July 1. The City Council passed the policy changes in December. City leaders recognized that economic shifts require healthy financial reserves and long-term planning. They also wanted to respond to calls for financial transparency from constituents interested in how their taxes are managed. Mayor Annise Parker said the evolving economy and new fiscal realities necessitated a renovation of the city’s

financial policies, last updated more than 10 years ago. “These policies represent a guide for improved financial management and heightened accountability, with more focus on making sure today’s decisions are sustainable in the future,” Parker said. “City staff did an outstanding job of researching and developing these policies, using lessons learned in other communities to craft a document that suits Houston as we work to strengthen our city’s financial future.” C i t y F i n a n c e D e p a r t m e n t s t a ff collaborated over the past year with the office of At-Large Councilman Stephen Costello, who chairs the council’s Budget and Fiscal Affairs Committee. Numerous city departments and the city’s financial advisors at FirstSouthwest also provided input on issues such as financial

planning and budget development, debt management, internal financial controls and evaluation of economic development investment. The new policies reflect best practices from the Government Finance Officers Association and other cities across the country. Parker said this action is “just a first step,” noting that the rules will only yield benefits if they are used as the framework for fiscal responsibility and prudent stewardship of public resources. “Adherence to the policies is essential to the City’s long-term financial health, especially in light of financial challenges ahead,” she said. The 13-page document also includes provisions intended to improve transparency in the city’s management of

public funds, not just for City Council but for the residents. One highlight is a new requirement that the city report in its annual budget whether it is in compliance with each component of the policies. Finance Department Director Kelly Dowe said transparence is a lynchpin of the city’s fiscal obligations. “Public reporting on our adherence to the new policies is critical,” Dowe said. “While the policies codify our current practices in many regards, they also set a high standard for us not just in how we manage and utilize public resources, but how we inform citizens and their elected representatives as to our progress,” he said. The full text of the policies is available at houstontx.gov/finance/COH_financial_ policies_approved_120314.pdf.

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08 HERITAGE

Photos by David Smith

Houston’s flight history soars at 1940 Air Terminal Museum By David Smith

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my Rogers takes a phone call. In a minute she asks the person on the other end of the line to hold for a few seconds. This happens occasionally. And callers understand she isn’t being rude, its just part of the job. Rogers is managing director of Houston’s 1940 Air Terminal Museum at Hobby International Airport. If you travel by commercial air much and fly out of or into Hobby, perhaps you’ve seen her office from your airplane window: it’s in that striking, white Art Deco structure alongside Hobby’s westernmost runway. So noise is going to be an issue off and on as commercial jets roar down the runway taking off and landing. Rogers says the roar of jets is not so difficult to put up with, especially considering her and the museum staff of volunteers’ deeper commitment to their mission. Houstonians are used to seeing landmarks disappear. (For recent evidence, see the gap in the downtown cityscape at the corner of Rusk and Travis streets where the old Houston Club building used to stand, and the other gap along Main where the old Foley’s/Macy’s Department Store is no more.) So this is personal for Rogers, her volunteer colleagues, Houston Aeronautical Heritage Society board members who support the museum, and aviation history buffs. Bringing life to this museum educates people about Houston’s aviation history and gives this unique, historic, Depression-era building a reason to remain. The Flight Museum gives people a place

Among the exhibits at the 1940 Air Terminal Museum are photos of James Dean and Elizabeth Taylor arriving in Texas to shoot “Giant,” other celebrities in Houston, artifacts and memorabilia of local flight history, and vintage aircraft.

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where they can slip back in time and see artifacts and images that together weave a tapestry illustrating Houston’s significant aviation history — from the day when the first air field was just that, a flat vacant field south of a much smaller city, through a developing scene in the ‘30s and the war years, and into the modern era with jets replacing propeller planes and the space program nearby. After years of fundraising and restoration to the circa 1940 structure, the Aeronautical Heritage Society opened its museum. The society had taken a 20-year lease on the building and land owned by the City of Houston. Society members’ hope and vision likely saved an architectural gem and gave birth to one of the best small museums you probably have never heard of. “If it weren’t for them, this building wouldn’t be here,” Rogers said. “Now we have a monument to the history of aviation in this city.” While NASA turned the world’s gaze to Houston during the Apollo years, Houston already had a history of heady aviators who developed a climate for flight. And the captains of industry in this rapidly growing metro area were pioneers of the business flight.  “Oil and corporate aviation was huge in Houston before the growth of commercial flight,” Rogers said. “The museum is here to interpret and inspire  …  to tell who these people were.” The 1940 Flight Museum has hundreds of items on display that give visitors the flavor of the era, educate them about

Houston aviation’s evolution — from the World War II WASPS (Women Airforce Service Pilots) to Braniff and Eastern Airlines flying commercially at Hobby. And it can also amuse, as with the photos and press clippings of comedy legend Bob Hope’s trip to Houston and the stars of the movie “Giant,” who flew in and out of Houston during filming. The museum also has vintage aircraft in an adjacent hangar. And there is room to expand. Rogers said long range goals include fundraising that will allow renovation of second-floor space at the terminal building. Although many people are unaware of the museum, word is out at area schools. School groups are among the most regular visitors. Rogers said learning more about aviation at the 1940 Air Terminal Museum can boost students’ interest in the STEM courses of science, technology, engineering and math. Scout groups and summer programs for kids also find their way to the museum. Plus, the museum hosts a Wings and Wheels event on the third Saturday of each month. The event includes an open house in the terminal, with static displays of airplanes and automobiles. Wings and Wheels serves as a monthly fundraiser. The museum also hosts corporate and social special events. Groups sponsoring such events find that those attending get

a kick out of seeing the planes take off and land from the museum’s front-row vantage point. “They have a great view, steps from the tarmac. It’s rare to get that close,” Rogers said. “Thanks to Hobby for that access. We’re the only museum in the country with that kind of access.” The museum board is gearing up for another capital campaign that should take two to four years, Rogers said. Fundraising efforts may allow completion of the terminal renovation project. In addition to the ground floor, the museum would then be able to add an interactive children’s gallery, expand to the second floor and open the flight tower. To do that, they will have to add an elevator and fire escape without altering the historic character of this protected building. Even though the contemporary Hobby flight tower dwarfs its predecessor in sheer height, this old building has an important past and a bright future. Designed by famed Houston architect Joseph Finger, in its heyday the structure served as versatile gateway of flight, both a passenger terminal and flight control tower.  Now it serves as a bridge to that golden era, as commercial jets not yet imagined when the building opened roar down the runway and take off at its front doorstep.


INTERNATIONAL EMPLOYEE SERIES

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Wall’s fall paves way to Texas Wolf Guenthert adopts Houston after life-changing opportunities

By Paul Beckman

P

ure luck. That’s Wolf Guenthert’s explanation for how he stumbled into one of the most historic moments in the 20th century. In 1989, Guenthert and some friends drove from Hamburg, West Germany, to West Berlin looking for fun and relaxation. They got more than they could have imagined as the Berlin Wall suddenly burst open. For 28 years, the deadly wall divided Berlin. Communist East Germany built the structure, complete with a death strip and guard towers, to prevent its citizens from fleeing to the democratic West. But political change was in the air. Communist regimes across Europe were unraveling. And the East Germans refused to be penned in any longer. On a crisp November night, throngs of East Germans poured through the wall. West Germans met them in euphoric celebrations. Guenthert was swept into Germany’s party of the century.   “With all the demonstrations in East Germany going on, we thought it might be interesting in Berlin,” Guenthert said. “We had no idea the wall would come down during that time. We had a blast dancing on the wall.” The wall’s end marked the beginning of a shake-up in the world order. And it launched events in Guenthert’s life that would take him from his German homeland to a new love in Houston and a job at the city. Today, Guenthert is a division manager in Houston’s Public Works and Engineering’s Resource Management Division. With six

warehouses to manage, Guenthert makes sure they are filled with the supplies that keep the city running. “We stock everything from toilet paper to fire hydrants, from pipe clamps to rain gear,” Guenthert said. “Basically, I try to have the right materials at the right location at the right time.” Guenthert has a knack for putting things in the right place at the right time, including himself. The journey from his hometown of Würzburg, Germany to Houston, where he’s lived for 21 years, is paved by seemingly improbable events. From Cold War to warm climate With 125,000 people, Guenthert calls picturesque Würzburg “just the right size.” It oozes with reflections of its rich past – a baroque palace, towering fortress, 1,000-year old churches and an old bridge that stretches across the Main River and back through more than 500 years of history. But the city isn’t without its dark moments. Near World War II’s end in 1945, 226 British Lancasters dumped 1,000 tons of bombs in just 17 minutes on its historic old town, according to BBC reports. Incendiaries sent a wave of fire tearing through the tight, medieval streets. Damage was devastating and thousands died. Guenthert’s father lived in the area and was wounded but survived. “There were plans to leave the city

in ruins and make it a huge monument and reminder of the destruction of war,” Guenthert said. “Fortunately that did not happen and the city was rebuilt.”    Würzburg had regained its old luster and ancient swagger by the time Guenthert’s parents moved there in the late 1950s and started a family. “I grew up there. I went to school there, and when I graduated from high school in 1983 I was drafted into the military,” Guenthert said. After Germany lost World War II, it was split into two countries. The western part allied with the United States and the eastern side joined the opposing Soviet Union’s camp.  So with a perceived military threat from the East, most West German males at that time were required to serve 15 months in the military after turning 18. But once in, Guenthert discovered he liked it. So he went for an officer position and signed on for a 13-year commitment. “When you’re 20 years old, that’s a little scary, but I did it,” Guenthert said. “I enjoyed my time in the military. They sent me to university. I got a master’s degree in economics.” After West and East Germany united into a single country, the armies of the two countries were combined.  “At that time the Americans and Russians and the rest of Europe said they didn’t know if they really wanted 1.5 million Germans in arms in the middle of Europe,” Guenthert said. “So they said we have to cut down the numbers.” After 10 years as an officer, Guenthert took an offer to leave military service. See Guenthert on Page 10

QUICK FACTS

WOLF GUENTHERT CITY DEPARTMENT:

Public Works and Engineering Division manager, Resource Management Division TITLE:

YEARS IN AMERICA:

YEARS WORKING AT THE CITY: HOMETOWN:

1. Berlin is the most populated city in Germany. Which city is second? a. Düsseldorf b. Frankfurt c. Hamburg d. Munich (or München in German) 2. Which is the current flag of Germany (get images)

3. What currency is used in Germany today? a. Euro b. Deutsch Mark c. German Strudel d. Dansk Krone

Würzburg, Germany

HOBBIES:

Cycling and traveling

GERMANY LOCATION: Europe CAPITAL:

Berlin

SIZE: 137,903 square miles (close to the size of Montana)

4. What is the capital of German today? a. Bonn b. Berlin c. Alfeld/Leine d. Flensburg

a.

c.

b.

d.

5. How many World Cup soccer championships has Germany won? a. 0 b. 1 c. 4 d. All of them

people

80 million

LANGUAGE: German

6. Which dessert originated in Germany? a. German chocolate cake b. Black Forest cake c. Moon pies d. Petit fours 7. Who is the current leader of Germany? a. Barack Obama b. Vladimir Putin c. Shinzo Abe d. Angela Merkel 8. Which of the following is NOT a German car maker? a. Volkswagen b. BMW c. Mercedes-Benz d. Honda

13

(located in Bavaria along the Main River)

POPULATION: About

QUIZ: Think you know Germany?

21

9. Which country is NOT a neighbor of Germany? a. Denmark b. Netherlands c. Italy d. Czech Republic 10. In which German town did the tale about the Pied Piper take place? a. Hammelberg b. Hameln c. Hammerstein d. Newark ANSWERS on Page 10

2015 - Issue 1


10

AROUND THE CITY IN MEMORIAM

Bob Lanier 1925-2014

Houston salutes Lanier legacy Popular mayor cast a long shadow, left city a better place By Elise Rambaud Marrion

O

ften described as larger than life, the late Mayor Bob Lanier left a lasting impact on the City of Houston. The affable, colorful, 6-foot 4-inch tall Lanier cast a long shadow across the city and its political landscape during his mayoral tenure from 1992-1998. He passed away on Dec. 20 at age 89. Lanier was a popular and influential three-term mayor whose path to City Hall was as varied and diverse as the city he served. He began his career as a sportswriter for the Baytown Sun, then

Guenthert

served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. After the war, Lanier pursued his education and careers in law, public service, banking and real estate investments. Before winning his first race for mayor in 1992, Lanier served as chairman of both the Texas Highway Commission and METRO, the Metropolitan Transit Authority. As mayor, Lanier was known for strengthening the police force and reducing crime, upgrading infrastructure, enhancing parks and neighborhoods, promoting community and workplace diversity and

acknowledging the achievements of city employees. After his third term expired, Lanier remained active with the City of Houston attending citywide celebrations and fundraisers and consulting on public policy and politics. City Savvy asked city employees to share their memories and comments about Lanier’s contributions to the city. Mayor Annise Parker He was a strong, popular leader who left a lasting mark on this city. Never

CONTINUED from Page 9 ANSWERS from Page 9

And a $15,000 parting gift to further his education opened up opportunities beyond Germany. “The University of Houston was offering an exchange program and I came over here, did six weeks of summer classes and a sixweek internship,” Guenthert said. Moving for brain, staying for heart Although Guenthert came to Houston for education, his heart made him stay. A chance meeting at a bar with his future wife, Lisa, was all the convincing Guenthert needed to stick around.   “We met and after that we dated for a while,” Guenthert said. “It was an adjustment. She had two small children.  We didn’t get married until six or seven years later.” In the meantime, Guenthert hit the books and earned a master’s in business from the University of Houston. When he decided the financial brokerage world wasn’t for him, he decided to try a job at the city. “I was positively surprised when I joined the city,” Guenthert admitted. “I thought ‘God, I work for a government organization.’ You know, it’s the typical view that people have until they really start looking into it.” Now, with a fulfilling 13 years under his belt in PWE, he said he could stay until retirement. But Germany never faded completely. Guenthert visits his mother and older

2015 - Issue 1

Wolf Guenthert has adjusted to living in Houston and working for the city. He has immersed himself in the culture, joining co-workers outside work also. At left, Guenthert rides as part of the city’s team participating in the BP MS 150.

brother there. Lisa and his two stepchildren, Elizabeth and Coryn, have also gone. And Guenthert said he misses some things in Germany like extensive public transportation that’s faster and less stressful than sitting on Houston’s highways and a top-notch education system. Still, he said he feels at home in Houston. “I definitely don’t miss the weather,” Guenthert said of Germany’s colder seasons. “I’m pretty much set on Houston. I like my job. I’m comfortable with the work environment.” Plus, weather dripping with dewy warmth is great for his interests, like cycling and working on his property in East Texas.

But if pangs of nostalgia ever jab at Guenthert, he can visit the Berlin Wall without ever leaving Houston. A tiny chunk sits in a display case at his home. It’s all he needs to remind him of the party that started it all 25 years ago. “That was a very interesting time,” he said. “It changed everyone’s life.” If you are a city employee who moved to the United States from another country, we want to hear your story of how you ended up in Houston. You could be featured in a future City Savvy issue. Contact: David Smith at 832-393-6160 or DavidF.Smith@houstontx.gov

QUIZ: Think you know Germany? Answers: 1) C 2) D 3) A

4) B 5) C 6) B 7) D 8) D 9) C 10) B

0 – 2 Correct:

WURST LEVEL – You’re the wurst!

3 – 5 Correct:

LIMBURGER LEVEL – This result is like a healthy portion of Limburger cheese. It stinks.

6 – 7 Correct:

TONI KROOS LEVEL – You pass! Just like the soccer player.

8 – 9 Correct:

SCHOKOLADE LEVEL – Sweet score! Your knowledge is richer than a German chocolate bar. You may also be nuttier.

10 Correct:

BIER LEVEL – Prost! Right now, someone somewhere in Germany is raising a stein of bier in your honor!


AROUND THE CITY one to shy away from a tough battle, he used his strength and popularity to push through Affirmative Action protections, r e b u i l d t h e c i t y ’s wastewater system, improve neighborhoods and add hundreds of officers to the police force. Although he became very successful in life, he never forgot his humble beginnings in Baytown. He will be greatly missed. My thoughts and prayers are with Elyse and the entire Lanier family.” Susan Christian, Mayor’s Office of Special Events President Clinton once commented that Lanier was one of the best mayors in the nation. He came in at a time where a lot of infrastructure maintenance had been deferred because of the oil bust, and we had a really high crime rate with a lot of negative elements. His whole goal was to create a city that lifted up the quality of life, so people would want to move back in the city. He motivated not only city departments to lift the standard of services we offered, but motivated communities, on a very grassroots level, to band together and take back their neighborhoods. Every department from Police to Solid Waste Management to Public Works to Parks to Neighborhoods, we all were on the same plan working congruently to achieve a better quality of life for Houstonians. You just wanted to work so hard for him, and meet and exceed his standards, which were always high. Other employees and I would often comment that we found

HPD unit

ourselves studying and cramming before every meeting with Mayor Bob, so we could answer every possible question. He was such a brilliant guy that inevitably he could ask a question from an entirely different viewpoint that would stump us. He was the catalyst for creating a substantive civic celebration. The Lanier administration really felt that the city needed to market itself in a more substantive way that would include special events as a mechanism to bond citizens together. I loved the Laniers, and I continue to have a soft spot in my heart for his family. He was a wonderful leader, but also a good friend. Mark Ross, Parks and Recreation Mayor Lanier was the force behind the Parks to Standard Program, which reinvigorated parks throughout the city. This was much needed at that time in the early 1990s. Mayor Bob arrived at the right time for reviving parks, green sapce and recreational programming for the citizens of Houston. It was a real pleasure to serve in his administration. Janice Evans, Mayor’s Office of Communications After Mayor Lanier started having heart problems in the mid1990s, he gave up smoking cigars. The cigars he still had were to be given away. Some went to members of the City Hall press corps, including me. About 10

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Jeffrey Wilson, Public Works and Engineering Thank you for all the hard work you have put in. Thanks to you, we have better things going for us than we had. I have been with the City of Houston for almost 10 years. My mother has been with the city for about 22. So it’s like generation to generation. You will be missed.

of them were delivered tied together with a ribbon. I was later told that they weren’t at first sure whether they should include me, thinking that only the men would be interested in the cigars. I never smoked any of them, but was so glad to have been included because the cigar was one of his trademarks. I wish I still had them today. He thought of the media as part of his team. For reporters, it was hard to maintain impartiality. I remember referring to him as Mayor Bob in one of my news stories instead of Mayor Lanier. It was a big journalistic faux pas that had my bosses rightly questioning whether I had become too close to the Lanier administration. It never happened again, and to this day I’m not sure I know why I let it happen that one time. My guard was down; he had won me over. It truly was an honor and loads of fun to have covered his administration, and I am so lucky to have had him as a friend in the years that followed.

Alvin Wright, Public Works and Engineering Mayor Lanier was a fine man, a great mayor and friend. His focus on creating a safe walking environment for school age children resulted in the creation of the Safe Sidewalk program. Cyndy Sax, Human Resources retired After Bob Lanier was inaugurated as mayor in January 1992, Al Haines, the director of Finance and Administration and my boss, handed me a 5-inch-tall stack of letters praising city employees. Because the mayor wanted to spotlight city employees who had received compliments, not only was the one-ofa-kind Extra Milers born, but so was my career in employee communications. Soon after publishing Extra Milers, I was transferred to the Personnel Department, now Human Resources. Mayor Bob told Stephanie Burke, the director, that he wanted a general employee newsletter. We decided that the first issue would feature a contest to name the newsletter, and Elyse Lanier, the mayor’s wife, offered to give the winner two of her prize rose bushes. So, thanks to Mayor Bob’s desire for employee newsletters, I spent 12 years working with a talented and creative staff in a job I loved.

Brenda J. Thorne, Health and Human Services I did not work directly with him. However, I applaud him for introducing and implementing the “Pay for Performance Incentive program” during his administration. Teresa Geisheker, Planning and Development I never worked with him personally, but I certainly felt the positive impact from his leadership. He was bigger than life, gregarious and friendly, exuded great warmth, and yet had a strong business focus. It was special that he and Elyse opened their beautiful home for the River Oaks Azalea Trail tours. The entire region also benefitted from his work in transportation.

CONTINUED from Page 1

employment referrals, valid IDs, transportation and donated medical equipment such as wheelchairs. More than anything, they work to restore hope to those who have lost everything, Wick said. And in the past four years, the team has helped about 500 homeless Houstonians get off the streets. Their work has received numerous awards, and media outlets have spotlighted their outreach. Videos such as the 26-minute documentary, “Shepherds in Blue,” and the shorter YouTube video, “This is what community oriented policing looks like,” created a buzz about their homeless advocacy efforts. Developing relationships and earning trust from the homeless is key, Wick said. A photo collage hangs above the desk in his office above the Houston Recovery Center. The collage’s centerpiece is a sign that reads, “Have you hugged your homeless today?” Wick recalls the names and stories of every individual in every photo, all of whom lived on the streets at one time. On the morning of Jan. 27, team members went to James Bute Park, a popular settling ground for the downtown homeless community. At press time, Bute Park has been closed for construction, and the homeless have relocated to other parks. Wick prefers to ride his bicycle around downtown, but Giraldo, Mansfield and caseworker West Puentes opted for the

“Mule,” an all-terrain vehicle that allows them to navigate the unpaved freeway embankments. That day, the team was helping HPD detectives follow up on the homicide of a homeless woman whose body was discovered near the park the previous day. “We got the call to assist in the investigation because she was one of our people,” Giraldo said. “The Bute Park homeless people know us. Everybody knows Steve Wick. He’s known as the Mother Theresa of the Houston homeless. We can help in the investigation because these people will talk to us when they won’t talk to any other cops.” The officers found the victim’s camp and were able to identify her by searching her possessions. By interviewing other park residents, the team identified a few possible leads, but the investigation is ongoing. Human suffering is a daily sight for team members, but Giraldo says hope and compassion are the undercurrents that keep the officers and case managers working every day. “Services are available in Houston, but for many homeless, their addictions or mental illnesses are stronger than their will or ability to be successful in those programs,” Giraldo said. “We give them the tools and the extra attention to get into the system and stay there. This is a different kind of police work. What we do is more compassionate and effective than

law enforcement alone. “We follow up with these folks every day,” Giraldo said. “We aren’t there to write tickets that they’ll never be able to pay, or move them away from street corners. Every day we ask them, ‘What do you need? How can we help you? Are you ready to get off the street today?’ We live for the days when they say yes.” On the trip to Bute Park, Giraldo paused briefly to give water and pet a dog tied up near the overpass. The dog danced and squirmed happily at any sign of affection, and eagerly drank the water. A few feet away, Giraldo and West Puentes met William, a homeless man camping under the overpass next to the spot where the homicide victim had been found. They listened to his story and referred him to a job placement service and permanent supportive housing. “I’m not into drugs or alcohol, all I need is a good, steady job,” William said. “I appreciate what these officers are trying to do for us. A lot of homeless folks don’t think that the police are here to help us. They’re afraid the cops will arrest you, and take your stuff, but I have respect for them. My brother is a cop.” Small victories On the other side of the park, Giraldo and Mansfield checked on Cynthia, who was injured in a physical altercation with other homeless people the previous day. Cynthia

praised the officers for their compassion. “They are truly good guys,” Cynthia said of the officers. “They do so much to help us. I got roughed up yesterday, and some guys messed up my house. Officer Mansfield stayed with me all evening to take my statement.” In a nearby camp, the officers came upon an emaciated woman, shivering and coughing convulsively under layers of blankets. “LaTasha has been on the street for over 10 years,” Giraldo said. “She has advanced AIDS, and we have been trying to get her medical help for ages. Hopefully today is the day.” And it was. At the officers’ insistence, LaTasha reluctantly agreed to get in an ambulance. Later that day, Giraldo and West Puentes went to St. Joseph hospital to check on her. “She could die out here. We can get her into housing, get help with her medications and at least help stabilize her,” Giraldo said. “She may never get better or get off the streets, but today, at least she got in an ambulance. “It’s a small victory, but a big step forward. In this job, every step forward counts,” he said.

2015 - Issue 1


12 INSIDE HOUSTON

Women of Service and Parking’s Stroder named Texas employee of the year Community Leadership for Kevia Stroder’s colleagues with the Leadership for 88 Years.” city’s Parking Management As HPL Division have known for director, Lawson quite a while how good heads the largest she is at her job. But word public library in is getting around the entire Texas. Under her state now. leadership, HPL has The Texas Parking and been recognized as Transportation Association one of the nation’s made sure of that when it leading public recognized Stroder as its libraries. Lawson 2015 Employee of the Year. Kevia Stroder, winner of Texas Employee h a s s p e a r h e a d e d of the Year by the Texas Parking and The association made the Transportation Association. multiple innovative presentation at its annual programs, services, conference recently in Corpus Christi. and building projects. Stroder is a compliance supervisor. Lawson is also currently on the Urban Parking Management Assistant Director Libraries Council Executive Board and Maria Irshad said Stroder has consistently serves on the advisory boards of the strived and succeeded in meeting Heritage Society, the Texas State Library, performance goals and is a valuable asset the University of North Texas School to the division. of Information, and the University of “Kevia has served the community in Wisconsin-Madison School of Library and ways not shown by data on a spreadsheet,” Information Science. Additionally, she is Irshad said. “Congratulations, Kevia. Keep an adjunct professor at the University of shining. You are an excellent teammate North Texas in the College of Information/ and I’m proud to call you my colleague Department of Library and Information and friend.” Science. HPL’s Rhea Brown Lawson cited for civic leadership Houston Public Library Director Rhea Brown Lawson was honored recently as one of several exceptional women leaders in the Houston area at Delta Sigma Theta Sorority’s 88th anniversary celebration, Incorporated Heritage and Archives of Houston Alumnae Chapter “Celebrating

DON programs reach many class of 2015 graduates Many Houston youth will graduate from more than high school this spring. Some will also graduate from one of several COH Department of Neighborhoods youth programs. DON offers programs to help young people develop important values and skills such as responsibility,

BECKHEADS SLUUURRP

Fleet Management Recognized among nation’s best The Fleet Management Department was honored by the 100 Best Fleet organization as one of the best fleets in the nation. The winners were announced at the National Association of Fleet Administrator Institute and Expo on April 16 in Orlando, Fla. The event is the largest fleet show in the U.S. WeiYao Chang, assistant director in the Fleet Management Department, accepted the award on behalf of the city, as the 26th best fleet in the nation. Officer complimented for school zone safety Houston Police Officer Marco Java has been commended for his work keeping school zones safe. Resident Lynda Hughes contacted the city to thank Java for his attention to a

complaint about a school zone safety issue. “My concern was and is for the safety of the children in this community as they travel  to and from school daily,” Hughes wrote. Good work, Officer Java. MCD praised for customer service The Municipal Courts Department’s outstanding customer service made a big believer out of one Washington County, Texas, resident. When Angela T. Knauss had to contact the MCD for court business, she was so impressed by the professionalism and courtesy displayed that she wrote to Mayor Annise Parker’s office in praise of MCD Administrative Supervisor Katherine Liberto and her staff. “When one encounters an exceptionally helpful individual, especially in government, I think that person should be acknowledged,” Knauss wrote. “I recently had contact with Municipal Courts Department personnel and was pleased by the helpfulness. … I would also give credit to Ms. Liberto for setting the tone for the office. Usually actions from below are a reflection of the supervisor in charge.” Knauss’ comments to the Mayor’s Office about her experience warranted a mayoral letter of commendation to Liberto for her commitment to the Municipal Courts Department and for how she and her staff represented the city and department.

By Paul Beckman

WELL?! WHAT ABOUT THOSE REPORTS?! ARE YOU IGNORING ME?

GLUB GLUB

FEBRUARY

FEBRUARY

SORRY, BOSS. THE WORLD DOESN’T EXIST UNTIL I’VE HAD MY FIRST CUP OF COFFEE. FEBRUARY

c

FEBRUARY

accountability, networking, communication, teamwork, and problem solving. Youth this spring participated in several DON youth programs including the Mayor’s Youth Council, the United Minds Youth Leadership Council, the Ladies Choice girl groups and the Young Fathers program will turn their tassels as graduates of the class of 2015. Many of these students have been participants of these programs during all four of their high school years.

City Savvy is published quarterly by the city of Houston Human Resources Department.

The Team

611 Walker, 4A Houston, Texas 77002 832-393-6160 hrenewsletter@houstontx.gov citysavvy.org

Mayor Annise Parker

Deputy Assistant Director Robert Thomas

Illustrator Paul Beckman

Human Resources Director Omar Reid

Publications Manager Leslie Denton-Roach

Designer Heidi Bane

Deputy Directors Ramiro Cano Jane Cheeks

Managing Editor David Smith

Editorial Board Katena Carvajales Stefani Farris Jedediah Greenfield Don Whitaker Lester Whiteing Alvin Wright

Assistant Directors Gerri Walker Helaine Rumaner

Reporters Paul Beckman Elise Rambaud Marrion Lucha Morales

City Savvy Issue 1 - 2015  

City of Houston Employee News

City Savvy Issue 1 - 2015  

City of Houston Employee News

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