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Candidates vie for District K Council seat

The race is on for the District K City Council seat formerly held by the late Councilman Larry Green. Nine candidates are running in the special election, which will be held on Saturday, May 5. The term runs through 2019.

District includes nine Super Neighborhoods: Astrodome area, Braeswood, Brays Oaks, Central Southwest, Fondren Gardens, Fort Bend Houston, South Main, Westbury and Willow Meadows/Willowbend area. Here is a look at the candidates.

Larry Blackmonis a retired educator. He is an appointee to HISD’s Project Advisory Board, overseeing bonds for construction of the new Yates High School, and an active member of the Yates Alumni Association. He sponsored the Mayor’s Youth Council from 1994 to 2006.

Martha Castex-Tatumis director of Constituent Services for District K and has advocated for seniors, small business owners, youth, economic development and beautification. She was the first African-American woman elected to the San Marcos City Council and served as deputy mayor pro tempore.

Carl David Evans is an associate with White-Orugboh and Associates Certified Public Accountants and a licensed minister. He has twice been elected president of the Fort Bend Houston Super Neighborhood Council 41 and designated representative for the Chasewood Community Improvement Association.

Patricia “Pat” Frazier has served as a District K educator and member of Mayor Sylvester Turner’s transition team. Her involvement includes Southeast Precinct Judges Council, Harris County precinct chair and judge, Senate District 13 executive secretary, and Houston Black American Democrats member.

Anthony Freddie is a former City of Houston employee. He was assistant to Mayor Lee P. Brown’s chief of staff and chair of the Super Neighborhood Alliance. He served as assistant to the airport manager and with the Houston Police Department. His involvement includes Northeast YMCA and NAACP.

Elisabeth Johnson is a Texas Southern University graduate student and author of “Wake Up: A Despairing Cry to the Black Community.” She is a Houston Black American Democrats board member and Houston Justice Coalition vice president. She worked on Bill White’s gubernatorial campaign.

Lawrence McGaffie is an Army veteran and ordained minister who has served as an associate/outreach minister and youth leader. He served as director of community engagement for the MLK Association of Houston. He founded Inspire the Lead and is a volunteer with God’s Food Pantry.

Aisha Savoy is employed with the City of Houston Office of the City Engineer, Floodplain Management Office. She served as a staff member for former Councilmember Sue Lovell. She has worked with victims of Hurricanes Katrina, Ike, Rita, Harvey and other disasters.

Gerry Vander-Lyn has worked in various capacities in multiple sectors including social services, finance, and non-profits. She said she has never run for public office before now, choosing instead to support others in that endeavor. (She did not provide a photo).

District K Special Election

Saturday, May 5

No bond for Houston teen charged with 8-year-old’s shooting death

The man accused of killing an 8-year-old in Houston has been denied bond.

Devonte Lockett, 18, was charged Thursday with the murder of Tristian Hutchins, who died March 28 after being caught in the crossfire of a March 1 shooting that Houston Police say was gang related.

Witnesses told police that they saw Lockett shooting from the passenger seat of a vehicle in the 3900 block of Scott Street, where Hutchins and his 5-year-old sister were sitting in a Nissan Versa, according to court records. Hutchins’ sister was also struck in the leg.

In the weeks after – and as Hutchins remained hospitalized in critical condition – city and community leaders pleaded for witnesses to come forward and for the city to unite to stem the gun violence that has killed 11 children in the city since December 2016.

Diamond and Silk criticize Michelle Obama for comparing Trump to a ‘Negligent Parent’


Michelle Obama spoke at the Simmons Leadership Conference in Boston when she compared her husband’s presidency to President Donald Trump’s.

“I think what we see is what happens when we take things for granted. For the eight years Barack was president, it was like having the ‘good parent’ at home. The responsible parent, the one who told you to eat your carrots and go to bed on time,” Michelle said using a metaphor to explain Barack Obama and the American people.

Then she compared the relationship between Trump and the American people as the opposite. “And now we have the other parent. We thought it’d feel fun, maybe it feels fun for now because we can eat candy all day and stay up late, and not follow the rules.”

Commentators and known Trump supporters Diamond and Silk didn’t take to kindly to the comments. The duo attacked the former first lady’s parenting skills. Diamond said, “Let’s look at Obama’s parenting, he fed us so much sugar honey ice tea (sh*t), that the American people started to walk around constipated.” Silk chimed in, “If Michelle Obama want to talk about parenting, talk about how she let her oldest daughter intern for Harvey Weinstein.” She then said, “Her mother intuition should have let her know that something wasn’t right”

BET Founder falsely credits Trump for lowering Black unemployment

Robert Johnson, the founder of BET and the nation’s first Black billionaire, gave Trump supporters something to crow about after he incorrectly credited the president for improving the job outlook for African-Americans.

“When you look at African-American unemployment, in over 50 years since the Bureau of Labor Statistics has been keeping the numbers, you’ve never had two things: African-American unemployment this low and the spread between unemployment among whites and African-Americans narrowing,” Johnson said Friday on CNBC’s Squawk Box.

That comment pleased President Donald Trump and warmed the hearts of right-wing conservative media. Outlets like Breitbart joyfully shared the Johnson’s remarks.

The BET founder, however, failed to note that the Black unemployment rate had declined steadily during President Barack Obama’s presidency. Indeed, economists have credited Obama’s financial recovery initiative from the historic recession for the declining unemployment.

In 2010 during the recession, the Black unemployment rate hit 16.8 percent, but it has continued to decrease falling to 7.8 percent when Trump took office. Johnson cited the December jobs report showing that unemployment among Black workers was at its lowest since the Labor Department began tracking the data in 1972. It fell to 6.9 percent, but it remains nearly double the white unemployment rate of 3.6 percent.

Johnson met with Trump in the weeks after the 2016 election when he was parading high-profile individuals under consideration for cabinet posts in front the media at his golf club in New Jersey. After that meeting, he urged African Americans to have an open mind about Trump.

Exonerated man speaks on Texas request for faster death penalty appeals

Anthony Graves spent 12 years on death row before a conservative federal court tossed out his wrongful capital murder conviction. Texas courts had previously rejected all of his appeals.

“I had to get out of the state of Texas and into the federal court system to get help,” he told The Texas Tribune Friday. “If it was up to the state itself, I would have been executed.”

It’s a point he made in arguing against a pending request by the state to speed up the federal appeals process in death penalty cases. He’s not alone: Several lawyers, former judges and legal groups have asked the federal government to deny the request by bringing up the cases of people, like Graves, who were taken off death row long after their sentences were handed down.

As first reported by the Houston Chronicle, Texas is currently awaiting a decision from U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on whether its state appellate system is competent enough to limit death row appeals in federal court. If approved, the time frame for inmate attorneys to file petitions in federal court after state appeals would be cut in half, the courts would have deadlines on when to rule on the cases, and the scope of claims that could be considered would be further restricted.

 The request was originally made in 2013 under Republican Gov. Greg Abbottwhen he was the state’s attorney general, but it was tabled by the Obama administration. Then in November, the Sessions-led Department of Justice notified Texas it would begin reviewing the petition for faster appeals and asked for updated information.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office complied.

“Opting-in would serve several purposes for Texans, including sparing crime victims years of unnecessary, stressful delays, ensuring that our state court judgments are respected by federal judges as cases progress, and reducing the excessive costs of lengthy federal court proceedings,” said AG spokeswoman Kayleigh Lovvorn in a statement earlier this week.

Currently, the average inmate on Texas’ death row has been there for more than 15 years.

Federal law says that the nation’s top prosecutor can allow a state to opt in for these greater restrictions in federal appeals if it appoints competent representation for poor capital defendants in post-conviction appeals at the state level. So far, no state has been certified, though Arizona’s petition is also currently being reviewed, according to the Department of Justice. In February, a capital defense group and several death row inmates filed a federal lawsuit challenging the lawfulness of the certification process.

Texas said in a December letter to the department it does have a competent state appellate system in place, but public comments from different groups involved in the capital punishment process argued otherwise. Graves and others have pointed to his case as an example of how the state often get its wrong, arguing that the safeguard of the federal reviews can be lifesaving.

“Despite the fact that Mr. Graves was represented by attorneys deemed competent under Texas law at every stage of the proceeding, it took twelve years of sustained litigation for his legitimate constitutional claims — and his innocence — to be discovered, presented, and acknowledged, and for relief to be granted,” wrote Bryce Benjet, an attorney for the Innocence Project, in a statement asking the government to deny Texas’ petition.

A former U.S. district judge from Texas’ eastern district, Leonard Davis, also asked for the government to deny Texas’ request in a public comment. Davis, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, said death-sentenced prisoners in Texas often miss out on full and fair consideration of their constitutional challenges because of inadequate legal representation in state appeals.

He wrote of Christopher Wayne Shuffield, a former death row inmate whose lawyer in state appeals failed to investigate a challenge to his future dangerousness. His federal appellate lawyer was able to bring up the claim, and Shuffield’s sentence was changed after Davis ruled on the case, he said. Davis said he’s concerned that if Texas is approved for the stricter federal guidelines, the case would have gone the other way.

“I am also concerned that Texas will continue to fall short in its efforts to guarantee state habeas counsel that will timely investigate and present all viable constitutional challenges to their clients’ capital convictions and death sentences,” Davis wrote. “It would be a travesty of justice if Mr. Shuffield had been executed on the basis of false evidence that he was a violent man in jail.”

The high profile case of Duane Buck was also mentioned in a statement filed by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Buck, a black man who had an expert witness testify at his trial that his race made him more likely to be a future danger, was re-sentenced to life in prison last year in Harris County after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Buck had incompetent counsel for allowing the testimony. Buck’s appeals had lost in state courts.

Meanwhile, Graves has been a free man for more than seven years now. He was eventually exonerated of the murders that landed him on death row, but he said Friday the newly revived petition is a slap in the face, and, since the state has asked for its approval to be applied retroactively to 1995, affects many death row inmates currently in appeals.

“There are literally innocent people shaking in their boots at the thought that they’re going to speed up their appeals process,” he said. “If this was in place when I was on death row, I would have been executed.”

The PINNACLE Center is free* for use to Fort Bend and City of Houston residents that are ages 50 and above.
Location Hours

5525#C Hobby Road, Houston, Texas 77053
Phone: 832-471-2760 or 832-471-2765

Monday – Friday 7:30 AM - 7:30 PM

Saturday 8:00 AM - 11:00 AM

The PINNACLE Center includes:
  • Wi-Fi Internet Café
  • Fitness Center
  • Outdoor Walking Trail
  • Fitness Classes – Self Defense, Weight Training, Zumba, Flexibility, Aerobics, and Chair Fitness
  • Ping Pong
  • Dance Classes – Line Dancing, Two Stepping and Swing Out
  • Veterans Assistance & Social Service Assistance
  • Financial Planning  
  • Knowledge is POWER DAY
  • Computer Classes
  • Table Games - Bingo, Dominos and various Card Games
  • Marketplace Monday - Vendors welcome on the 1st Monday of each month