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Miami commissioners vote to end Police Chief Art Acevedo’s stormy tenure

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The five commissioners took the step following a trial-like hearing in which Acevedo was criticized for offending fellow Cuban-Americans and losing the trust of his officers, while his attorney argued that the city’s politicians wanted him gone because he accused them of corruption. An interim chief was immediately sworn in after Acevedo’s ouster.

Acevedo, 57, did not testify at the meeting. He took office in April after leaving his post as Houston police chief. At the time, Miami’s mayor hailed the veteran police official as the Michael Jordan and Tom Brady of police chiefs. Native to Havana, Acevedo also shared a background with hundreds of thousands of Cubans in Miami.

Acevedo began clashing with others in his department almost immediately after his April swearing-in, by taking over internal affairs and making significant changes to his command staff. He demoted four majors and fired two high-level police officers — a married couple — because they weren’t truthful about a crash involving a city-issued SUV.

Chief Art Acevedo and his attorney John R. Byrne, arrive at Miami City Hall for a hearing to determine his job, Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021, in Miami. Acevedo was suspended after a tumultuous six-month tenure.

 

Acevedo’s attorney John Byrne said at Thursday’s meeting that there was not enough time to build a case to properly defend Acevedo. He noted that the meeting was scheduled four days after Acevedo was suspended by City Manager Art Noriega.

Commissioners said they were obligated to vote on the matter within five days of receiving the notice per city rules. Mayor Francis Suarez did not attend the meeting but has stood by the city manager’s moves to remove Acevedeo.

“Based on what we have seen here today, it is clear the commissioners have not a valid basis for terminating Chief Acevedo,” Byrne said. He added that the reasons stated by the city manager were “pretextual” and that the real justification was an eight-page memo in which he accused city commissioners of meddling in the police department and internal investigations.

In the memo sent to the mayor and city manager, Acevedo also accused commissioners of hampering his attempts at reforming the department by eliminating positions and stated he was talking to U.S. Justice Department officials to review the city’s police internal affairs procedures and non-fatal use of force incidents.

Two of the commissioners, also of Cuban descent, were seemingly upset that Acevedo would not speak at the hearing.

“He had the courage to write a false memo, full of lies,” said commissioner Alex Diaz de la Portilla upon learning that Byrne rested his case without calling witnesses. “He should have the courage to stand up here and address this commission, the courage or the guts to do it. He clearly does not.”

The Cuban American commissioners have publicly attacked Acevedo in two previous long meetings. On Thursday, the city manager’s attorney presented a video of him cursing at a demonstrator who was questioning his support for Black Lives Matter.

Before arriving in Miami, Acevedo became well known after calling for gun control and also marching with protesters in the aftermath of the police custody death of George Floyd in Minnesota.

Noriega’s attorney, Stephanie Marchman, argued the termination of Acevedo was fair, naming the confrontation with the protester for which he was reprimanded as one of several reasons justifying his termination. She questioned witnesses who said Acevedo had lost the trust of his police officers and offended the community by saying the city was run by a “Cuban mafia,” a term former Cuban leader Fidel Castro used to refer to exiles in Miami.

“Any one of those reasons is sufficient to remove him from his position,” she said.

Assistant chief Manny Morales was sworn in as interim chief immediately following the hearing. He was one of the witnesses called by Marchman who testified there was growing dissatisfaction among the rank-and-file under Acevedo’s leadership.

Morales said the chief interviewed high-ranking officers, asking them to select people they would demote and state the reasons why. Acevedo would then tell officers what their coworkers were saying, without specifying who had said it, Morales said.

“That was perhaps what drove the biggest wedge. I think it was a tactic to divide and conquer,” he said. “The divulging of that information— that your peers were stabbing you in the back.”

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The People’s Club of Nigeria in Sugarland Celebrates Thanksgiving―Spectacular Photos

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The People’s Club of Nigeria in Sugarland Spreads Thanksgiving Love to Celebrate COVID-19 Survival

GUARDIAN NEWS – HOUSTON, TX – As the spirit and cheerfulness of the Thanksgiving season spread all over North America, the People’s Club of Nigeria International (PCNI), Sugarland took it to another level. It was also a grand event to celebrate a victory over the pandemic. According to the group’s Chairman, Chief-Sir Nnanyelugo Obinna Mbachu, “We are equally celebrating our survival and thanking Almighty Jehovah for keeping us and our families alive and healthy from the pandemic.”

PCNI is an affluent Nigerian-based social club known for sophistication, charity, civic support, and community outreach. The event, the first major celebration outing of the group since the pandemic, attracted hundreds of dignitaries from Houston and beyond.  Venue was the Grand Hall of the Our Savior Anglican Church, Houston.

■ PCNI’s Chairman, Chief-Sir Nnanyelugo Obinna Mbachu, and wife, Chief-Mrs. Chinwe Mbachu

The PCNI is structured in alignment with its Nigerian overseers and prioritizes the wellness and advancement of its members. Members are known for cheery personality, sophistication, and devotedness and are selected within specific conditions that reflect upright charisma and integrity. Worldwide, The PCNI currently has under its stable, branches in Nigeria, the United States, Canada, and Europe.

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Houston doctor suspended from hospital for spreading Covid misinformation

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Houston Methodist hospital said the doctor’s tweets promoting ivermectin as a treatment were ‘harmful to the community’

Houston Methodist hospital said Dr Mary Bowden, an ear, throat, and nose specialist, spread “dangerous misinformation” about Covid and shared personal and professional opinions the hospital deemed “harmful to the community”.

Bowden, a recent hire, posted several tweets stating that she was against Covid-19 vaccine mandates.

She also used Twitter to promote Ivermectin as a treatment for Covid-19, despite several public health officials having warned the public not to use the anti-parasitic drug, which has uses in humans and animals, as a coronavirus treatment.

Resistance to vaccinations, mandates and other public health measures has spread, particularly in Republican-run states, despite a Covid death toll of nearly 763,000.

Texas has the second-highest death toll of any state, with nearly 73,000, behind only California. Alternative treatments for Covid, some potentially dangerous, have also spread via social media.

Patti Muck, a spokesperson for Houston Methodist, told the Washington Post that Bowden’s “privileges at Houston Methodist have been suspended”.

Bowden’s lawyer, Steve Mitby, told the paper she was not against vaccines and had treated more than 2,000 Covid-19 patients.

“Like many Americans, Dr Bowden believes that people should have a choice and believes that all people, regardless of vaccine status, should have access to the same high-quality healthcare,” Mitby said.

Bowden is vaccinated, a requirement for all employees at Houston Methodist.

In an interview on Monday with a local radio station, she said she was “surprised” and “disappointed” by her suspension, saying she found out about it when the Houston Chronicle contacted her for comment.

She also said she would be sending Houston Methodist a letter of resignation, and planned to send patients to other hospitals.

Like many hospitals in the US, Houston Methodist has dealt with medical practitioners and healthcare workers spreading Covid-19 misinformation or opposing vaccination mandates.

More than 150 workers were either fired or resigned over a hospital-wide vaccine mandate, one of the first such requirements in a healthcare setting.

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Judge rules Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s ban on school mask mandates violates federal law

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A federal judge in Texas ruled Wednesday that Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order banning mask mandates in schools violates the Americans with Disabilities Act, setting the stage for school districts in the state to decide whether they want to impose mask rules.

U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel wrote in a 29-page ruling that the ADA, a federal law enacted in 1990, supersedes Abbott’s July order banning facial coverings in schools.

“The spread of COVID-19 poses an even greater risk for children with special health needs. Children with certain underlying conditions who contract COVID-19 are more likely to experience severe acute biological effects and to require admission to a hospital and the hospital’s intensive-care unit,” Yeakel said. “This includes children with conditions including, Down syndrome, organ transplants, lung conditions, heart conditions, and weakened immune systems.”

Yeakel added, “The evidence presented by Plaintiffs establishes that Plaintiffs are being denied the benefits of in-person learning on an equal basis as their peers without disabilities.”

The ruling also prohibits Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton from enforcing the governor’s order, which imposes a fine of up to $1,000 for any entity that issues a mask mandate.

Paxton’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The lawsuit was filed in August by families of students with disabilities and an advocacy group called Disability Rights Texas. The suit argued that Abbott’s ban denies children with pre-existing conditions equal access to a safe education.

“Governor Abbott’s executive order clearly violates federal law, and Attorney General Paxton’s enforcement of the order against school districts is now stopped,” said Kym Davis Rogers, an attorney for the group, in a statement.

“As the court found, Texas is not above federal law, and state officials cannot prevent school districts from providing accommodations to students who are especially vulnerable to the risks of COVID-19. We are thankful that school districts can now take the steps necessary to protect these students. No student should be forced to make the choice of forfeiting their education or risking their health, and now they won’t have to.”

Wednesday’s ruling comes as GOP-led states such as Florida and Iowa have banned mask mandates in schools.

The majority of public schools in Texas began in-person classes in August. More than 210,000 students have tested positive for Covid-19, according to state data.

The Department of Justice filed a statement of interest in the Texas case in late September, arguing Abbott’s executive order would harm students with disabilities.

“The serious adverse consequences on students with certain disabilities is readily foreseeable,” the Justice Department wrote. “Some parents of children at heightened COVID-19 risk will likely keep their children at home—even though the children could safely attend school if mask protocols could be put in place.”

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