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San Antonio Passes Paid Sick Leave Ordinance, Texas Retail Gasoline Prices Fall Two Cents This Week, And More

What we’re following today at Houston Public Media

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Top afternoon stories:

San Antonio is the second-largest city in Texas.

San Antonio passes paid sick leave ordinance, joining Austin in fight against top Texas Republicans

The San Antonio City Council passed a new paid sick leave ordinance Thursday — but the local rule may well die either in the courts or on the floor of the state Legislature before it goes into effect next year.

The council voted 9-2 to allow San Antonio workers to accrue up to 64 hours of paid sick leave each year, sparking a wave of applause so loud the mayor had to quiet the room. In doing so, San Antonio became the second major Texas city to pass such an ordinance. Austin passed its own ordinance in February and drew quick, sharp rebukes from prominent state conservatives.

Advocates praise the measure as a boon for workers who need days off to care for themselves or for sick children. Opponents fret that the as yet-untold financial impact of the new ordinance will be devastating for small-business owners who already have to "count every chip in the bowl and napkin on the table," as Councilman Greg Brockhouse put it.

This file booking photo provided by the Parker County Sheriff’s Office in Weatherford, Texas, shows Roy Oliver.

Prosecutor: Officer who shot black teen was ‘trigger happy’

A former Texas police officer accused of killing a black teenager was angry, out of control and “trigger happy” when he fired at a car full of teenagers while responding to a house party, a prosecutor told jurors Thursday during the ex-officer’s murder trial.

Ex-Balch Springs officer Roy Oliver’s actions were unreasonable on the night he fatally shot 15-year-old Jordan Edwards last year, said Michael Snipes, a Dallas County assistant district attorney. Snipes said Edwards was an “innocent child” and that his last words were “duck, get down.”

Oliver, who is white, fired his gun into a moving car carrying five black teenagers while responding to a report of underage drinking at the party. Oliver has said he and his partner feared for their lives as the car sped toward them.

But Oliver’s partner, Tyler Gross, testified Thursday that he did not fear for his life as the vehicle went by and that he never felt the need to fire his weapon. During opening statements, Snipes told jurors Oliver fired at the car after it passed Gross and that Gross was in no danger.


AAA: Texas retail gasoline prices fall 2 cents this week

The average retail gasoline price in Texas fell by 2 cents this week to settle at $2.61 for a gallon of unleaded.

AAA Texas on Thursday reported that the average price at the pump statewide fell slightly from $2.63 a gallon last week. The average price drivers across the U.S. are paying is $2.85, also down 2 cents from last week.

The association survey says drivers in McAllen are paying the least at the pump at $2.49 per gallon. Motorists in Midland are paying the most at $3.07.

Although prices have fallen slightly, analysts caution that motorists could see spikes in demand closer to Labor Day as travelers take to the road for end-of-summer vacations.


Top morning stories:

State will not sanction Houston ISD

HISD's interim superintendent Grenita Lathan pointed to double digit improvement on tests that pushed Worthing High from "improvement required" to "met standard" for the first time in seven years.
HISD’s interim superintendent Grenita Lathan pointed to double-digit improvement on tests that pushed Worthing High from “improvement required” to “met standard” for the first time in seven years.

The Houston Independent School District (HISD) has avoided tough state sanctions, as all of its most struggling schools showed academic gains — or received a waiver on accountability ratings because of Hurricane Harvey's impact.

It was a cause for major celebration at Worthing High School. The campus — a cornerstone in Houston's predominantly black neighborhood of Sunnyside — got a passing grade from the state for the first time in seven years.


Harris County Jail inmate dies of apparent suicide

A news release from the HCSO said that Debora Ann Lyons, 58, was found hanging from a door in a common area on the fourth floor of the 1200 Baker Street jail building at about 6:45 p.m. on Tuesday. Lyon’s death is the second apparent suicide of a Harris County inmate in the past three weeks.


Local politicians tour Southwest Key facility in Houston

Local politicians continue to raise concerns over a Southwest Key facility in southwest Houston. Southwest Key operates centers for migrant children.

U.S. Congressman Al Green toured the facility Wednesday. He said about 71 children are currently there, from ages 10 to 17, and one child there was separated from their family by the government.

He also said scheduling the visit raised concerns about transparency.

"It is very difficult, it took 45 days for us to get this visit. I was able to get to Brownsville, Texas, in a much shorter period of time," Green said.

The City of Houston on Tuesday sent a letter to the non-profit, saying the facility at 1555 La Concha was not in compliance with city code and asking for updated plans. The non-profit said it would review the city's request.

While the city said in the letter it had “reasonable cause to believe conditions may exist in other Southwest Key facilities which make them unsafe, dangerous, and/or hazardous,” leading to its review of the La Concha location. Green said he didn't see anything there which looked dangerous to him.

The group is slated to open a center for migrant children in downtown Houston, which Mayor Sylvester Turner has spoken against.


City gun violence commission announces recommendations

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner announces the recommendations of the Commission Against Gun Violence on Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2018.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner's Commission Against Gun Violence has released its list of recommendations, just in time for the beginning of the new school year.

The 30 recommendations center on four areas: school safety, firearms safety and access, community safety, and domestic violence and sexual assault.


City sends drainage fees to November ballot

Houston has scheduled a November 6 election date on the issue of drainage fees. It's the latest episode in a long-running battle over how the City will pay to reduce flood risks through the ReBuild Houston program.


Houston Little League team plays in World Series

The Post Oak Little League team dons its new uniforms for the Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA on August 15, 2018.

Houston's The Post Oak Little League baseball team is gearing up for Thursday night's opener at the Little League World Series, in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

The team of 11 to 13-year-olds will go head-to-head with the Coventry Little League team, from Rhode Island.

“We're trying to make sure that their minds are ready. The environment is a big deal, so everyone’s got to kind of get over the ‘wow factor,'” said Assistant Coach David Wylie.

If the team wins Thursday’s game, it will play Sunday again. If the team loses, the next game is on Saturday.

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