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Firefighters And Municipal Workers Layoffs Over Proposition B, Charges Filed For Murder Of Lamar High School Student, And Curtailing Immigration Could Cost Houston Billions

These are some of the stories Houston Public Media is covering.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Top afternoon stories:

Houston City Hall
Houston City Hall.

Up To 400 Firefighters, 100 Municipal Workers Face Layoffs Over Proposition B

The City of Houston is preparing to lay off up to 500 firefighters and municipal employees. The move comes as the mayor prepares to enact voter-mandated raises for firefighters.

Council Member Steve Le’s office confirmed up to 400 firefighters will be let go, along with up to 100 municipal workers. 

While Mayor Sylvester Turner didn’t confirm the numbers, he did say the cost of Proposition B makes it impossible to avoid job cuts. “The gap for next year’s budget when you factor in Proposition B is $197 million that we must find a way to balance between now and the end of June, and unless there’s additional revenue coming in in a significant way, we cannot do it without significant layoffs,” he said.

In response, firefighters’ union president Marty Lancton said, “The mayor’s hatred of firefighters will now have terrible consequences for us and for the public. He’s willing to destroy public safety in Houston to punish firefighters’ families. Houston is about to have a fire department that is below national safety standards.

Harris County DA Kim Ogg announces murder charges against gang member Kendrick Johnson accused of killing Lamar High School student De’Lindsey Mack last November.

Murder Charges Filed Against Houston Gang Member Suspected Of Killing Lamar High School Student

Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg announced on Friday murder charges against a man accused of killing 18-year-old student De’Lindsey Mack near Lamar High School last November.

The man charged is Kendrick Johnson, 19, a member of the Houston gang called 103. Johnson is also charged with the murder of 24-year-old Kenneth Roberson on September 23, 2018.

Ogg said in a news conference that “both murders were committed as part of an ongoing assault” by the 103 gang against another gang called Young Scott Block (YSB). Dahlia Mack and Yvonne Ferguson, the mothers of the two victims, attended the news conference, along with Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo.

Johnson is currently in jail awaiting a court hearing on unrelated charges for multiple aggravated robberies. The district attorney’s office also plans to charge him with aggravated assault for a drive-by shooting on January 8, 2019.

Ogg and Acevedo said there is an ongoing criminal investigation.

Photo of Houston skyline
Houston skyline.

Curtailing Immigration Could Cost Houston Billions In GDP

A report by the Center for Houston’s Future explores what the city’s economy would look like in 2036 depending on whether immigration is limited or encouraged.

Cutting immigration by 30 percent could lose the city $51 billion in GDP, the research shows.

But if immigration to the region increases by 30 percent, GDP could grow by $67 billion in 2036, Houston’s 200th anniversary.

Center for Houston’s Future CEO Brett Perlman said for the city to continue to grow economically, immigration is increasingly important.

“By 2036 immigrants are going to hold 43 percent of the region’s jobs and 57 percent of the new jobs created will be filled by immigrants,” he said. 

The Center’s research also shows if local immigration trends continue, fields like agriculture, transportation and public administration will employ a majority of foreign-born workers in 20 years.

Research released in conjunction with the Center for Houston’s Future report also shows that immigrants in Houston proportionately contribute more to the metro area’s GDP than native-born citizens.