While Houston gets a superhero thumbs up thanks to its economic standing as a national leader in job growth, there's a much darker alter ego that Crime Stoppers executive director Rania Mankarious shared with a packed crowd of 490 during the nonprofit's fundraising dinner Thursday at the Omni Hotel.
Houston is the country's hub for human trafficking. Houston tops the nation when it comes to crime. Houston has the highest rate of violent crimes than any other major Texas city. And, she points out, ignoring these stats only makes them worse.
Chaired by celebrity attorney Rusty Hardin and wife Tissy, the soirée that included an invocation by Rev. Manson Johnson and entertaining commentary by emcees Deborah Duncan and former Houston Texans guard Chester Pitts was attended by a ring of fighters for whom improving safety in the Bayou City has become a personal mission, among them Houston Police Department Chief Charles McClelland, Sheriff Adrian Garcia, Lt. Chandra Davis and FBI agents Carlos Barron and Shauna Dunlap.
Following a brimful silent auction and VIP reception in which a select few rubbed elbows with consumer reporter Fox News' John Stossel, who flew in to participate as the keynote speaker, the Waltrip High School Ram Band turned up the volume with a sprightly rendition of Pharrell Williams' "Happy" and the theme from Disney's The Incredibles — quite a compliment to the otherwise serious tenor of the evening.
If there's only one thing to learn from Stossel's libertarian views is that the private sector can make a positive contribution against unlawful activities, just as Crime Stoppers did when 7,398 anonymous tips resulted in the arrest of 601 felony suspects last year.
Warriors for law and order helping raise a record $390,000 for the organization were Dominique Sachse and Nick Florescu, Michael Pearce, Matt Burrus, Miya Shay and State Rep. Gene Wu, Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson, council member Ellen Cohen, Roseann Rogers, Toni and Bob Lawrence, Franco Valobra, Leisa Holland-Nelson and Laurie and Tracy Krohn.
Needless to say, no one felt the need to yell, "screw you Rusty."