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Shark Bites Man Near Crystal Beach, Cruz Allies Ramp Up for November TV Battle with O’Rourke, And More

What we’re following today at Houston Public Media

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Top afternoon stories:


Shark Bites Man Near Crystal Beach

A man was bitten by a shark Thursday morning near Crystal Beach.

The 42-year-old victim, whose name has not been released, was attacked around 10 a.m. as he swam along a sandbar off the Bolivar Peninsula, KPRC-TV in Houston reported.

According to the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office, the man was bitten above the knee on his right leg at around 10 a.m.


From left to right: Harris County Precinct One Commissioner Rodney Ellis; U.S. Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, Augustus ‘Auggie' Campbell, President and CEO of the West Houston Association; Harris County Judge Ed Emmett; Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner; and Harris County Precinct Four Commissioner Jack Cagle during the event held in Houston to support the approval of Harris Count's flood control bond.

Judge Emmett and Mayor Turner Ask Voters to Approve Harris County's Flood Control Bond

With early voting already underway, Harris County Judge Ed Emmett and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner asked county residents Thursday to approve the bond to provide $2.5 billion for flood control projects.

Emmett and Turner, as well as U.S. Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) and Harris County Precinct One Commissioner Rodney Ellis, Harris County Precinct Four Commissioner Jack Cagle, Augustus ‘Auggie' Campbell, President and CEO of the West Houston Association, participated in an event held at the T. C. Jester Park to promote voting in favor of Proposition A.

During his remarks, Emmett said Harris County and greater Houston will continue to experience heavy rains in the future and emphasized that "we have got to get serious."


New nursing suites at Bush Intercontinental are located in Terminals A and C

Bush Intercontinental Airport Now Has Private Nursing Rooms For Moms

The airport has opened a total of four nursing rooms at Bush Intercontinental. Two are in Terminal A and two in Terminal C.

The Houston Airport System's Bill Begley says along with comfortable chairs, the private rooms have power outlets and changing tables. There's also a door you can close.

"If you have mothers with infants they need a space of their own, a place where they can quietly nurse their child or change their child, have a little bit of quiet time to themselves," added Begley.


Forecasters Now Expect Less Active Atlantic Hurricane Season

U.S. forecasters say the Atlantic hurricane season may be less active than they previously predicted.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's updated outlook predicts nine to 13 named storms, including four to seven hurricanes. Up to two hurricanes could be "major" with sustained winds of at least 111 mph (178 kph).

Four storms already have developed this year, including two hurricanes in July.

Gerry Bell of NOAA's Climate Prediction Center said Thursday that oceanic and atmospheric conditions have become "much more inhospitable to hurricane formation and intensification."

U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-El Paso (left), and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz.

Cruz allies ramp up for November TV battle with O’Rourke

Allies of U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, are preparing to back him up on TV as he faces a serious re-election challenge from U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-El Paso.

Texans Are, a pro-Cruz super PAC, has reserved TV ad time starting early next month in the Corpus Christi, San Antonio and Waco markets, according to a Republican operative familiar with the group’s plans. Texans Are intends to stay on the air in those markets through Election Day and add others as it goes. It is spending roughly $750,000 on the initial buy for the month of September.

The super PAC’s efforts are expected to also include cable, radio and digital ads.

The group had $2.1 million in cash on hand as of its latest report to the Federal Election Commission, which covered the month of June. It will show double that when it discloses its July figures to the FEC later this month, the operative said.

O’Rourke has been beating Cruz badly in the money race. O’Rourke has outraised Cruz in every fundraising period but one since the race began, and after the latest quarter, O’Rourke took a decisive lead in cash on hand.

Cruz’s campaign went on TV a week ago, airing a positive spot about Cruz in Beaumont and three negative ads about O’Rourke in Abilene, Corpus Christi and Lubbock. O’Rourke’s campaign has not started airing TV ads yet, but he indicated at a campaign event Sunday that “very soon” supporters will be seeing them from him.

O’Rourke has rejected PAC money in his campaign and criticized Cruz for being supported by PACs, including super PACs like Texans Are that can raise unlimited amounts of money as long as they don’t coordinate with a candidate. Neither Cruz nor O’Rourke ultimately has any formal control over super PAC activities in the race.


Top morning stories:

Questions of precedent weigh on DACA challenge

Currently, there are approximately 700,000 DACA recipients in the U.S.

A hearing before a federal judge in Houston over the fate of a program shielding young immigrants from deportation has focused heavily on the judge's previous ruling against an earlier Obama-era program.

U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen heard arguments Wednesday in a case brought by Texas against the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. Texas and several other states say the program is unlawful.


City Council sends pay parity measure to November ballot

The Houston City Council unanimously approved Wednesday placing an item on the November 6 ballot that will present Houstonians with a choice to support or reject pay parity between police officers and firefighters.

The ballot initiative would give firefighters a single-year pay raise of 25 percent, at a cost of $98 million a year.

The Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association praised the move. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, who opposes the pay parity amendment, said the city could not afford such an increase without gutting its workforce and city services.


More than 29,000 votes so far in flood bond election

Early voting in Harris County’s flood control bond election began Wednesday, bringing in 29,352 votes.

The Harris County Flood Control District this week released a list of more than 200 projects slated to receive funds from the bonds. If passed, $2.5 billion would go to projects like channel improvements, home buyouts, and upgrades to the flood warning system.

Currently, there are approximately 2.3 million registered voters in Harris County. Ballots have been sent to 68,000 voters who are eligible to vote by mail.


County attorney aims for ‘anti-prostitution zone’

A lawsuit filed by Harris County forbids 86 named defendants, namely pimps, johns, and prostitutes, from entering an area dubbed the ‘Bissonnet Track', in southwest Houston.

Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan announced Wednesday, if offenders violate the injunction, they would be in contempt of court and subject to a fine or jail time or both.

The lawsuit points out that, more than any other area in Houston, the ‘Bissonnet Track' attracts buyers and sellers of sex from all over the country. According to Ryan's office, HPD received reports of nearly 4,000 crimes in the area from January 2016 to July 2018 and one-fourth of them were related to prostitution.