By Lora-Marie Bernard

TWO STATE agencies have joined one of the county’s cities in a program to help solve a thorny problem for water sportsmen.
Their “vessel turn-in” program is based on the notion that, while the best day in a boater’s life is the day he buys his boat, the other best day is the day he gets rid of it.
With that in mind, the city of Galveston has teamed with the state’s general land office and parks and wildlife department to help every island small-boat owner have his “other best day”.
The city is offering its resident boat owners the opportunity to remove inoperable and derelict vessels up to 26 feet long through the program, which will provide the owners with a voluntary method of disposing of old or broken vessels until August 1.
The GLO will remove all fuel, oil, and batteries, while Galveston city officials will remove lead keels, aluminum and all other recyclable materials.
The program was originally offered to residents who live east of 103rd Street. This week, the city expanded it to include citizens west of 103rd.
“This program is designed to assist owners with the legal removal of unwanted boats, reducing instances of illegal dumping, unsightly neighborhood blight and the harboring of unwanted pests to further the city’s beautification initiative,” the
city said in a code-enforcement announcement.
Residents who want to dump nasty boats should call the program hotline at 409-797-3560.
A message will prompt callers to provide their name and phone number so they can be added to the application list and then a GLO representative will contact the resident to discuss the application.
Then the representative will conduct a site visit, during which the applicant will need to prove ownership. Once verification is complete, the boat owner will be notified about the removal procedures.
Residents who are not owners can report broken or abandoned boats to the city code-enforcement division at 409-797-3660.

By Lora-Marie Bernard

TEXAS’ senior US senator, John Cornyn, wants a senate committee to say whether the St Louis Cardinals franchise could be charged with espionage if its leadership knew about the alleged hacking of the Houston Astros’ computers.
“I hope that FBI and department of justice will take the ongoing investigation into any criminal activity seriously and ensure that any wrongdoing is fully investigated and prosecuted,” the senator, above right, said when he addressed the judiciary committee last week.
No charges had been filed at press time on Monday against anyone at the Cardinals in connection with the case, even though the FBI office in Houston issued subpoenas last month against front-office employees at the Cardinals in connection with the investigation.
The New York Times reported in mid June that, if proved, the attack would be the first known case of corporate espionage in the sports industry.
The news outlet reported that law-enforcement officials believe Cardinals employees wanted to seek information about individual players in an effort to create havoc against Jeff Luhnow, the Astros’ general manager. The report described him as a “successful and polarizing executive with the Cardinals until 2011”.
Deputy attorney general David Bitkower said that hacking trade secrets from a protected computer could potentially violate two different statues. One includes protection for the computer itself under the Computer Fraud And Abuse Act. The other involves the statute on trade secrets.
Cornyn’s probe tried to determine how high the liability could reach if the ball club workers are found guilty after the investigation is complete.
“As a general matter,” he asked, “if the leadership were aware of that hacking, could it mean that, in addition to its employees, the franchise included could be charged with a violation of CFAA or trade-secret laws?”
Bitkower answered that it would depend on the doctrines and statutes the investigators determined had been violated. He said the charges would be based on fact-specific conduct.
“Certainly, if there was a common plan or agreement to violate the law, there could be liability there,” he told Cornyn.

astros laptop cardinals logo Cornyn, John                   John Cornyn

Bernard, Lora-Marie             Lora-Marie Bernard

IN A WEEKEND vote in the US house of representatives, congressman Randy Weber broke with colleagues and voted against a bill that attempts to remove regulatory roadblocks in the review process for new pharmaceuticals and medical devices.
The 21st Century Cures Act would amend the Public Health Service Act and increase funding for the National Institutes Of Health until 2018. It also calls for changes of certain medical-related regulations.
The bill is now heading to the senate, with some healthcare organizations praising the legislation while others criticize its supporters as “well-meaning legislators who don’t understand the issues”.
The bill passed 344-77 and received vast bipartisan support, with 170 Republicans and 175 Democrats voting in favor of it.
The College Of Healthcare Information Management Executives in Ann Arbors, Michigan, praised the vote.
Leslie Krigstein, CHIME’s vice president responsible for public policy, said: “We view this legislation as a starting point in the conversation on health IT reform. We hope to build on the language in the 21st Century Cures Act to ensure the meaningful use program, among other ongoing federal policy initiatives, enables the implementation and use of electronic health-record systems to meaningfully improve patient care.”
CHIME called on congress to remove a prohibition that interferes with improving positive patient identification. The group wants to relax laws that keep federal regulators from developing standards for the process.
“With the removal of the outdated prohibition, we believe then that the nation can experience robust information exchange and interoperability,” Krigstein said.
But the bill also has critics as it contains language that sunsets the health IT standards committee by 2018.
One MD, John Halamka, raised several concerns about the legislation in
a blog post quoted in Journal Of The American Health Information Management Association.
Halamka, the chief information officer of the Beth Israel Deaconess medical center and the dean for technology at Harvard medical school, called the bill flawed, dangerous and harmful.
“It does not make sense to officially sanction a ‘charter organization’ and seed it with $10m, creating yet another player in an already crowded field of groups working on interoperability,” he wrote.
“I agree that coordinating the standards development organizations makes a lot of sense – why not just direct ONC [the office of the national coordinator for health information technology] to create a permanent task force that reports to the health IT standards committee, and let ONC support it out of existing resources?”

Weber, Randy 2014 Web Ready            Randy Weber

Education bill makes good grades among US senators

THE US SENATE was working on a bill to replace the nation’s notorious No Child Left Behind Act as The Post went to press on Monday.
The Every Child Achieves bill seeks to dismantle the act and replace it with a more favorable law designed to restore good faith in the nation’s education system.
Every Child Achieves has received support from educational administrators’ and teachers’ groups, which see the bipartisan reform bill as an avenue to restore the original guiding principles of the Elementary And Secondary Education Act of 1965.
The 1965 act was reformatted into No Child Left Behind 13 years ago, beginning a trail of bitterness and anger throughout the American educational system.
During the past week, a series of 14 amendments has been debated on the senate floor. Only one has been rejected.
That amendment, which would have allowed states to let federal funds for disadvantaged students follow low-income children to accredited or state-approved public or private schools, failed in a 45-52 vote. Both Texas senators, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, were two of the senators who voted in favor of the amendment.
Cornyn sponsored one of the 14 passing amendments, which was crafted after a program developed in the Texas public-accounts comptroller’s office. Senator Mark Warner, a Democrat from Virginia, cosponsored the amendment.
The Texas comptroller’s Financial Allocation Study For Texas program, known as FAST, evaluates the operational efficiency of school districts and campuses. It then provides school leaders with information enabling them to decide how to
allocate resources to produce higher student academic achievement.
The Cornyn amendment based on the Texas model allows states and local schools to use Title IX funds to pay for efficiency reviews. The senator said it would allow schools to better serve students without expending additional resources.
He said the measure is based on a successful model employed by the Texas comptroller’s office that has allowed the state to improve student achievement while keeping expenditures low.
“I’m pleased with today’s strong support for employing this successful model from Texas on a national scale,” he said when the amendment passed last week. “Enabling states to more efficiently use their education funds will allow teachers and local school officials across the country to put students’ needs first.”

City sets budget review schedule

AS THE Post went to press on Monday, council members were scheduled to consider League City’s proposed 2015-2016 fiscal budget during a work session.
In upcoming work sessions, the council members will review the funds, departments and capital-improvement programs levied in the document. The sessions are scheduled for July 21, July 27 and August 4.
A public hearing will be held on August 11 for the council to receive community comment. The budget timeline calls for the council to consider its first reading of the ordinance on August 25.

Row, row, row your boat to free paddle clinic

WANT to learn how to paddle your own canoe? League City’s next City Hall In The Park program on Saturday morning will include a free paddle clinic.
Anyone can show up with a canoe or kayak and learn how to navigate the city’s bayous as no registration is required, and an experienced instructor will conduct the class, according to city manager Mark Rohr.
“We will have a limited number of kayaks and life jackets available to borrow,” he said in one of his weekly press announcements.
The training session will run from 10:00-11:30am at Lynn Gripon Park At Countryside, at 501 North Bay Area Boulevard.
Other features at the event will include the Galveston County health department’s new mobile clinic, Elite Care.
This year’s final City Hall In The Park program will begin at 6:00pm on August 20 at Hometown Heroes Park. It will feature an open swim and float session.

By Lora-Marie Bernard

THE LEADERS of the unveiling campaign for a county city’s public safety building have received high-profile recognition for their efforts to showcase the new facility.
The grand opening of League City’s “one-stop shop for emergency personnel” has earned its police department and communications office this year’s best-one-time-special-event honor from Texas Association Of Municipal Information Officers.
A recruitment campaign for staff to work at the facility received the same honor in the annual awards program’s marketing plan category for cities with a population of less than 100,000.
The TAMI awards are designed to recognize best practices and showcase trends in local-government community-relations programs and are presented during the organization’s annual conference each summer after selection by a panel of expert judges.
This year, League City shared the awards spotlight with programs from Cedar Park, Irving and Grand Prairie.
Its $30m state-of-the-art public safety facility combines accommodation for its fire, police and emergency management services. The public relations campaign to herald its opening included extensive press coverage, guided tours, department demos and lots of interaction with the police department’s popular K9 unit, with a community-wide barbecue rounding out the January showcase event.
Other communication strategies included cinema advertisements, videography, print and billboard ads and social-media tactics.
After receiving the awards, the city said department heads had undertaken their widespread marketing strategy to attract top-rated public-safety recruits. Since the facility’s unveiling, the department has welcomed several new officers, including six from Alvin community college’s law-enforcement training academy. Last month, the city hired Christopher Evans, David Upp, Brian Dean, Travis Beck, Remington Churchill and Edwin Turcio.
The city said its communication and marketing plans had dovetailed into the gradual move-in timeline for the 74,000-square-foot facility.
Features of the building include the ability to withstand a category-four hurricane and bullet-proof windows and walls. Its backup power base includes gas and diesel generators to secure communication systems during a crisis.


By Lora-Marie Bernard

TWO STUDENTS from the county have become the first sisters to receive the University of Oklahoma’s highest student honor in the same year.
When the names of 48 undergraduates were called to receive the president’s awards for outstanding students this year, Janella and Celeste Clary reached the podium together.
The sisters, from League City, were among a scant two per cent of the university’s entire student population to win the award during the school year.
The honor is given to students who have demonstrated excellence in scholarship, character, leadership and service to the university community. To be eligible for selection, they must be enrolled in a full-time course, have completed a minimum of 12 credit hours and have earned a minimum grade-point average of 3.25.
The sophomore sisters, whose parents are Monica and Jimmy Clary of League City, are both majoring in mechanical engineering.
They are part of a Clary legacy at the university – their father, an older sister, an aunt and uncle all attended their alma mater – but, they said in a recent interview, it is their mother to whom they credit their accomplishments.
Mom Monica is from a poor family in Ecuador, the sisters said. She saw education and knowledge as a path to a better life and became a good student, moving to the United States after earning an accounting degree at university in Quito.
“Mom always encourages us to do our best, get involved and learn as much as we can,” Janella said. “Getting an education isn’t an option; it’s expected.”
During their college education, the sisters each want to study engineering in Italy. Celeste said she planned to travel during the summer before returning to an internship at ExxonMobil. Janella is interested in a future with the Peace Corps and plans to travel during the fall semester.
“The college of engineering has opened up my eyes to so many opportunities,” Janella said. “I’ve found a niche where I can combine my interest in engineering with global and humanitarian awareness, something I wasn’t aware was
even possible.”
Both sisters were athletes in grade school, served as officers in school clubs and won academic scholarships to attend OU, where they now volunteer and mentor in more than a dozen university organizations.
Celeste, a mentor for incoming freshmen, said: “The choices and possibilities in the college of engineering can be overwhelming for new students. Getting involved with organizations and partnering with a mentor early on is crucial to connecting students’ interests with all the areas of study.”

Janella and Celeste Clary smile with their mentor Lisa MoralesCity Of League City Government courtesy photo

Janella and Celeste Clary are all smiles with their mentor, Lisa Morales, executive director of the OU diversity and inclusion program.