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Firefighter Dies From Work-Related Illness

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Houston, TX — The family of Margaret Roberts, a Black firefighter with the Houston Fire Department who died battling cancer directly caused by her work as confirmed by the fire department chief, has been  fighting to have her pension benefits. Their case is more than a year old, but the city of Houston refuses to compensate them claiming that her illness was caused by her being Black.

For more than 21 years, Margaret was in service as a firefighter for the Houston Fire Department, until she began to suffer from multiple myeloma.

“I had to sit there for almost five years and watch her die daily,” Margaret’s husband, Daniel Roberts, said.

Since her death in January 2017, her family has been dealing with her loss and with the fight for the benefits she has earned but hasn’t been granted.

Houston Fire Department Chief Sam Pena wrote in a letter to the state pension three months after Roberts’ death confirming that it “was a result of an illness sustained in the line of duty.” After that, he also wrote a letter to 100 Club saying that it was “Declared a Line of Duty Death.”

The confirmations made by the fire department chief himself should have entitled Roberts’ family to benefits paid by groups besides the city of Houston. However, the benefits from city funds are ultimately being brought to court.

“The city saw the opportunity to re-dispute the claim starting all over again, said Roberts attorney Mike Sprain.

The city has already lost the case for Roberts’ health benefits when she was alive but they’re trying to fight again on a similar issue now that she’s dead, claiming that her multiple myeloma was not caused by her work as a firefighter, but instead of her weight, family history, and race.

Meanwhile, Robert’s occupational doctor declared in 2013, “In my professional opinion, Margaret Roberts’ multiple myeloma is work-related.”

The International Firefighters Union, as well as four states in the US, specifically recognize the connection of firefighting to multiple myeloma. There are also studies that confirmed an “increased” or “significantly elevated” risk for firefighters getting multiple myeloma.

Yet Texas ignores all these and instead decides to follow the recommendation from United Nations that doesn’t categorically link cancer to firefighting.

“I guess they don’t want to pay the benefits that me and my kids have coming,” Daniel Roberts said.

The city didn’t make any comment about the lawsuit.

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“The Pact” In San Antonio

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With an auditorium full, St. Philip’s College held its President’s Lecture Series featuring The Three Doctors, Drs. Sampson Davis, Rameck Hunt, George Jenkins, fondly known as “The Three Doctors.” These extraordinary role models shared their challenges and discussed how they overcame major hardships to achieve their goals.

The St. Philip’s College President’s Lecture Series provides opportunities for the college and the community to hear speakers’ perspectives on a broad range of local, regional, national and international issues. The lectures are provided at no cost to the audience and are designed to attract students, faculty, and staff as well as the greater San Antonio Community.

As teenage boys growing up on the tough inner-city streets of Newark, New Jersey, these three kindred spirits made a pact: they would stick together, go to college, graduate, and become doctors. Surrounded by negative influences and having few positive role models made this a difficult feat. Now, years later, these three men have overcome countless obstacles and proudly bear the subtitle of doctor, serving as the face of health and education for youth and families across our country.

Having grown up in the streets of Newark, The Three Doctors know firsthand the pressures and struggles of life in the inner city and how difficult it can be going at it alone. Determined not to become victims of their environment, the trio stood firm in their mission and together became one of the most remarkable success stories of inspiration, dedication, and determination. The Three Doctors are frequently asked about their formula for becoming prominent, successful men. While there are numerous factors that played a role in their success, there are particular guidelines that The Three Doctors have and continue to live by to this day. This includes “learning patience,” especially in a world where many have come to want—and expect—instant gratification and success. They urge people to trust self-reliance and inner strength in developing a strategic plan for carrying out long-term goals in life.

Today, Dr. Hunt is a board-certified internist at University Medical Center at Princeton and assistant professor of medicine at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. Dr. Jenkins serves as assistant professor of clinical dentistry at Columbia University. Dr. Davis is a board-certified emergency medicine physician at St. Michael’s Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.

The Three Doctors have also authored three inspiring books about their lives: The Pact, for adults; We Beat the Streets, for children; and The Bond, which highlights fatherhood relationships. The Three Doctors also find time to give back to the community through their nonprofit organization, The Three Doctors Foundation, which recently celebrated its 11th year of offering free health, education, and mentoring programs for youth and families in the New York/New Jersey area.

The Three Doctors were honored by the National Civil Rights Museum in 2012, received the prestigious Essence Award in 2000 for their accomplishments and leadership, and were awarded a BET Honors Award in 2009. They have been featured medical experts for the “Tom Joyner Morning Show” as well as CNN news. The Three Doctors continue to make numerous television appearances in support of their message of health, education, and youth mentoring. This includes their past appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show, during which Ms. Winfrey remarked, “You guys are bigger than rock stars! I think you guys are the premier role models of the world!”

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Historic win for District 2

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Councilwoman Jada Andrews-Sullivan: “Budget is a historic win for District 2”

SAN ANTONIO (September 12, 2019) — District 2 Councilwoman Jada Andrews-Sullivan released the following statement following the adoption of the FY 2020 Operating and Capital Budget approved by City Council:

“We are thrilled to see the results of over a month of planning, negotiation, and collaboration come to fruition in ways that our community has been requesting for a long time. The approved budget is a historic win for District 2 and has definitely set a precedent for the future that District 2 is not the black sheep of the city.

We are being allocated more money for infrastructure, more money than we’ve ever been allocated for the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. March, and we’re allocating money for programs that will benefit our community’s most vulnerable populations.

Our Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. March is the largest in the nation and is expected to continue to grow as it attracts international attention and becomes a destination for people around the world. This year, we are allocating $200,000 to cover the cost of marketing, facility rental, production, and facility use. This is about $50,000 more than we typically see for the march’s funding. 

Ella Austin Community Center, a staple of our community, is being allocated $500,000 for maintenance and renovation in addition to $90,000 to fund its summer youth program. 

The city is also matching $150,000 in funds to Brackenridge Park Conservancy for a market analysis of the Sunken Gardens Theater. 

In addition, of the $110 Million allocated to city-wide infrastructure improvements, half will be allotted based on volume of roads and half will be based on condition. We are receiving about 13% of the Street Maintenance Program budget, more funding than District 2 has ever received before.

One of our biggest wins was a $25,000 allocation to fund a second chance initiative which will assist in developing and securing employment for individuals who are formerly incarcerated. When people have served their time and reintegrate into society, it is so hard for them to find steady footing. This program will help ease that transition which will lead to reduced recidivism, reduced homelessness, and reduced hopelessness that leads to a number of other things.

We’ll also see $250,000 allocated to a Neighborhood and Housing Program that will provide ten $25,000 home grants for homeowners in District 2. These home grants will allow our most vulnerable populations to make necessary structural improvements to their homes. 

I am also personally excited to see the Collaborative Commission on Domestic Violence will be allocated $500,000 in funds, and I want to thank Councilmembers Shirley Gonzalez and Manny Palaez for drafting the original CCR (Council Consideration Request) that made this possible.

Today, our city came out victorious and our district has much to celebrate. Moving forward, we will continue to take the steps towards an equitable future.”

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SAHA CELEBRATES GRAND OPENING OF EASTSIDE COMMUNITY PARK

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The San Antonio Housing Authority (SAHA) celebrates the final Eastside Choice Neighborhood Grant Implementation Grant neighborhood revitalization effort by hosting a celebration for the grand opening of Phillis Wheatley Park, a one-acre recreational area located at the center of East Meadows, the site of the former Wheatley Courts.

U.S. State Rep. Barbara Gervin-Hawkins, Lou Miller, Chief of Staff for San Antonio City Council District 2 Rep. Jada Andrews-Sullivan, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development San Antonio Field Office Director Zulieka Morales-Romero, and Morris A. Stribling, DPM, Chairman
offered remarks. Students from Eastside Academy and Winston Elementary were in attendance and invited to be the first to play at the park featuring a playscape, pavilion with benches and board games, a walking path, health and wellness equipment and an open field. 

During the planning process, neighborhood residents met with the creative teams on how best to incorporate the rich history of the community in the newly-designed park. It contains two mosaic lion sculptures representing the former Wheatley High School mascot, as well as custom story walls to capture and depict the legacy of local unsung heroes Phillis Wheatley and Ira Aldridge. Children and residents of East Meadows worked alongside nationally-recognized artist Reginald Adams on location to assist in the creation of the landmark public art project.

The park maintenance and ownership will transfer to the City of San Antonio’s Parks and Recreation Department.

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