Letters

Dissin' dismissed
Unfortunately, the Press has allowed its usually solid standards to be purloined by a rather vapid "dissing" of the Constitution, federal laws and state law [News, "Losing Track," by Cynthia Greenwood, August 25]. Missing from the article are basic principles of good journalism such as objectivity, common sense and fact. This pandering to sensationalism missed several important points:

1. Unless certified to stand trial as adults, juveniles are adjudicated delinquent, or in need of supervision. They're not found guilty.

2. Juveniles do not plead guilty.
3. Federal law prohibits the detention of children solely on the basis of alien status.

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4. The Constitution applies to all persons detained for criminal or delinquent conduct and it would be impermissible to discriminate against one class of children merely because it's suspected they're in this country illegally.

5. The mere fact that a child states he/she is from another country does not make his/her status illegal.

6. Children charged with delinquent conduct (whether legally or illegally in the United States) frequently give misinformation out of fear they may place others in jeopardy.

7. Overcrowding at the Juvenile Detention Center precludes placement of children under INS contracts. Like INS, the probation department contracts with programs like Casa Juan Diego, which assumes a guardianship function.

8. Children should not be presumed to be illegal merely because they don't speak English.

9. The probation department does not deport people.
10. Without substantial additional funds, staff and space, it is absurd to place upon the probation department the additional job of ascertaining a child's immigration status.

In a perfect world, we would instantly be able to correctly ascertain the citizenship of all the children charged with delinquent conduct. We would have detention facilities, resources and staff large enough to cover all classes of children and no children would run away and skip out on court.

Each of us should applaud good investigative journalism. However, this article left more questions than answers. How many cases of children with questionable immigration status failed to show up for court or failed to comply with the rules of probation within the last year? How does that number compare to the number of citizen children that ran from the process? Specifically, what laws are being broken by the Juvenile Probation Department?

Juvenile crime is not a partisan problem. It affects all of us. The basis of the article appears to be only a few cases in the context of the total problem. This, of course, raises additional questions too evident to pose, but which provide for good speculation.

William B. Connolly
Houston

Knock, knock
Brian Wallstin's article on Helen Huey ["Hammerin' Helen," August 25] hit the nail right on the head. The Houston Housing Coalition, the Houston Property Rights Association and several other civic-minded groups have been screaming bloody murder since the CURB ordinance first hit the planning commission's drawing board. Both the Chronicle and the Post have turned as deaf an ear as they could get away with. Most of Houston's watchdog civic groups were dealing with depleted budgets after fighting an equally oppressive zoning ordinance (also spearheaded by Huey). It was more than coincidence that the CURB ordinance came on the heels of the zoning defeat. The ordinance was purely a vindictive and retaliatory measure levied by the elitists who support Huey's vision of an upscale Houston.

I have argued with Bea Link (Huey's executive enforcer) that I could cite any residence for violations under this new building code and have repeatedly challenged them to meet me at any address in Houston with a copy of the bill in hand. I repeat the challenge today and suggest that we start with Huey's home.

I don't care what good the ordinance hopes to achieve. If it can be misused to hurt responsible people who are not the target of the ordinance, then it's a bad law. Huey and her associates have responded by telling me what the intent of the ordinance is and giving me their assurance that it will not be used in an arbitrary fashion, as I fear that it will.

CURB was passed as an emergency measure on the basis that there was too much red tape to deal with before the city could knock down a crack house, but their own records show that the victims of CURB have been more often elderly homeowners on a fixed income who must make repairs gradually.

Robert Thorn
Houston

Home sweet home?
I read in amazement about the city's multitude of uninhabited, uninhabitable buildings ["Huey? Hooray!," Letters, September 8]. It is certainly a surprise to me. Although I was born in the city of Houston, I don't ever recall an epidemic of loss of life or limb due to

dilapidated housing.
As for Perry Radoff's claim of "broad-based citizen concern," he failed to mention the 50-plus grassroots organizations who not only questioned the CURB ordinance, but asked that it be delayed for six months for study before implementation.

When Mr. Radoff says that "... landlords were taking advantage of less educated and ... were leasing ... residences which were not fit for occupancy," whose standard for occupancy is Mr. Radoff using? Obviously, someone believed that these places were fit for habitation. Could it be that Mr. Radoff is suggesting that he knows better where a tenant should live than the tenant himself? Or that people are so incredibly stupid (less educated, as Mr. Radoff calls them) that they can't choose where they want to live and how much to pay without help? Maybe Mr. Radoff believes that he should be appointed to some "blue ribbon committee" to decide for these "less educated" where they should live.

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