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DA Kim Ogg Weighs In On Harris County Bail Reform, Texas Education Commissioner Puts HISD On Notice, Firefighters Union Calls For No-Confidence Vote In Chief Peña, And More

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

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Top afternoon stories:

Kim Ogg
Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg.

DA Kim Ogg Weighs In On Harris County Bail Reform

Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg campaigned for election in 2016 on the need for comprehensive bail reform, but she argues the proposed settlement of the county’s bail reform lawsuit goes too far to accommodate defendants without providing adequate protections for victims or the public.

In this interview with Houston Public Media’s Andrew Schneider, Ogg says that the system that’s been crafted as a result of the lawsuit is allowing too many people to be released on personal recognizance bonds, including dangerous misdemeanor offenders.

For Ogg, it would be beneficial for the community that the Harris County Commissioners Court held open meetings and hearings to listen to crime victims and law enforcement.

Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath.

Texas Education Commissioner Puts HISD On Notice

The Texas Education Commissioner has put the state’s largest school district on official notice that it could lose its locally-elected school board because of failing grades at one Houston high school.

The commissioner, Mike Morath, notified Houston’s interim superintendent, Grenita Lathan, and school board president, Diana Davila, that he may have to take action to appoint outside managers to oversee the district — or order the struggling school closed.

The campus, the historically black Wheatley High School in Fifth Ward, recently had its seventh failing grade in a row.

Morath has not made a final decision and the failing grade remains preliminary until Sept. 15.

Tony Blakeney
Tony Blakeney, attorney for the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association.

Firefighters Union Calls For No-Confidence Vote In Chief Peña

The vast majority of Houston’s district fire chiefs are calling for a vote of no-confidence in the head of the Houston Fire Department. The move may be symbolic, but could mobilize opposition to the mayor as he runs for reelection.

Nearly all district chiefs signed the letter to firefighter union president Marty Lancton calling for the no-confidence vote. The letter cites budget cuts and deteriorating working conditions since Samuel Peña started as chief almost three years ago.

Firefighter union members are expected to vote next week.

Mayor Sylvester Turner, who appointed the chief, said in a statement that he has every confidence in Peña and considers the union’s move “100% political.”

A Walmart store in Walpole, Mass.

No More Ammo For Military-Style Rifles At Walmart

Walmart announced Tuesday that it will discontinue sales of ammunition designed for handguns and military-style rifles such as the AR-15.

The company will also stop allowing customers to openly carry firearms inside its stores, and called on lawmakers to consider passing new gun control legislation.

Stores will continue to carry ammunition designed for shotguns and in calibers designed for more traditional hunting rifles.

But Walmart will stop selling 5.56 and .223-caliber ammunition — nearly identical rounds commonly used in AR-15s and similar rifles — once current inventory has been exhausted.

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