While Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner is in the final year of his last term, he’s taking time to share lessons learned during his tenure with other big city mayors — especially the Black mayors of the other three most populous cities.

For the first time, the mayors of the top four cities in the United States are African Americans. During a recent U.S. Conference of Mayors, Turner, along with Karen Bass of Los Angeles and Eric Adams of New York, talked about the challenges they face, including issue number one — public safety. (The fourth Black mayor is Lori Lightfoot of Chicago).

In an interview with ABC News, Turner said that defunding the police is not the way to protect people. Instead, he wants to see reinvestment in underserved communities and policies that address the economic reasons why people fall into homelessness. The border was the other main topic, and Turner hopes the Biden administration’s new policy of allowing people to sponsor those seeking to enter the country will help slow the flow of people arriving at the southern border.

Houston Housing Authority accepting waitlist applications

For the first time in nearly five years, the Houston Housing Authority (HHA) will accept applications to be placed on the waitlist for public housing. Application acceptances were put on pause in 2018 because of a “tremendous amount of individuals already on the waitlist,” according to David A. Northern Sr., president and CEO of HHA. Each property and HHA’s voucher program had a long waitlist, and Northern said after they were able to have a smaller number of people on the waitlists, they were able to open applications back up. The number of applicants is already “dramatic” according to Northern, with the count at nearly 30,000 so far. HHA is conducting a lottery to select applicants. He said that sometimes getting through the waitlist can take years, and during that time, many applicants’ situations can change. As of now, Northern said applicants should expect a minimum year-long wait. HHA is accepting applications for 10 locations, including Cuney Homes, Ewing, Independence Heights, Kennedy Place and Heatherbrook. Apply at https://housingforhouston.com.

Free day at the rodeo

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo will have a first-ever Community Day with free admission for all until noon on Wednesday, March 8. Community Day discounts include: free admission for all guests until noon; buy one, get one free rides and games in the Junction Carnival area until 4 p.m.; discounted food and beverage offerings until 4 p.m.; $3 mini corn dog at McKinney Corn Dog; $3 small popcorn at Kid Shack and $3 small sour apple lemonade at Squeezers. Additionally, for every person that walks through the gates between 8 a.m. until noon on March 8, TC Energy will donate $1 to the local community through its social impact program, Build Strong, which invests in organizations that are integral to local communities.

TikTok access banned at major Texas universities

The popular app TikTok is now banned on networks provided by most major Texas universities. The app was already banned on all state government-issued devices as of a month ago, which in turn, has sparked the new wave of bans. The University of Texas at Austin barred access to TikTok on its campus internet. The Texas A&M University System did so, as well. Other schools include the University of North Texas in Denton and the University of Texas at Dallas. The University of Houston banned the app on university-owned devices, but it has not barred the app from being accessed on its wifi network. TikTok allows users to share quick, mostly funny videos. It’s used primarily by teens and young adults in their 20s and early 30s. Gov. Greg Abbott wants to ban the app because he says it poses a significant security threat from China. TikTok is owned and operated by the Chinese-based company, ByteDance Ltd, which the FBI claims is troublesome since it’s suspected the Chinese government could use it to collect American users’ data.

Harris County to cut toll rates

Harris County commissioners Rodney Ellis and Adrian Garcia hope to pass a toll rate deduction of 10% by Sept. 4, 2023 if county officials can approve the proposal in the next Commissioners Court meeting on Jan. 31. Commissioner Ellis says the deduction would help relieve customers’ costs while people are wrestling with high inflation and daily expenses. If approved, the plan could help thousands of Houston residents who use the toll roads on their daily commute to and from work and in their navigation around the city. The new policy would make the EZTag free permanently with up to 8 free tags per household. Previously the tags were $15 each.