The tragedy is that children are stuck where, and with whom, they're dumped. As captives, they have few options. They can become ill or run away. They can learn to self-medicate. Or they can identify with their abusers, swallow their anger and redirect it later at smaller, weaker victims. Some of these children are destined to become our next generation of bullies, wife-beaters and child abusers. They will fill the prisons as fast as we build them and keep the battered-women's shelters, rehab clinics and psychiatric services working to capacity. They will become the quacks and fast-buck artists of tomorrow.

The Press article raises the standard for the discussion of corporal punishment well above the level of coarse comedy, where it has always been. Hopefully, this will prompt others in positions of influence to come out of hiding and settle down to the task of ridding society of this shameful, barbaric practice.

Jordan Riak
Executive director, Parents and Teachers Against Violence in Education
via Internet

Yay, Cotswold! Kill Da Bums!
You should be ashamed of your criticism of the Cotswold project ["Cotswold Unspun," by Bob Burtman, May 1]. Finally, people are doing something about the sorry state of affairs downtown. Leo Linbeck III and his group should be applauded, while Metro and the Star of Hope should be the focus of criticism.

The deterioration of downtown is in good part the result of a lack of planning by Metro. Downtown streets are now Metro traffic hubs that are not conducive to restaurant and retail development. Downtown used to be vibrant and bustling with activity; unfortunately, bureaucrats at Metro like Rafael Acosta took federal tax dollars and created an urban wasteland.

It is difficult to believe that it takes over $4 million to create more "diamond lanes" and to reroute bus traffic around the Cotswold project. Metro's current plans do nothing to relieve the traffic congestion that has created urban decay downtown; in fact, it seems that its plans bring in more congestion and decay. If Rafael Acosta cared more about Houston and less about federal tax dollars, then Metro would create a type of "bus port" on the side of downtown. This "bus port" could connect to trolleys which would take riders all over downtown, relieving congestion and bringing new life to the area.

The Star of Hope also contributes to the decay of downtown. Because of the Star of Hope, downtown is a haven for vagrants, not economic activity. This was made clear when one of the vagrants at the Star of Hope attacked a judge who was forced to defend himself with deadly force. Instances like this result in a negative image of downtown.

People like Leo Linbeck III's group and Randall Davis are visionaries -- the government, Metro and the welfare state should get out of their way and allow them to bring life back to downtown. It is strange that Houston, the fourth-largest city in the United States, needs an image campaign (I am referring to the one headed up by Mrs. Lanier). One of the reasons for this is that Houston is more nationally known for its topless bars than its downtown. That is a shame.

J.J. Paull
via Internet

Editor's reply: If the government and the "welfare state" got out of the way, the Rice Hotel would still be a shuttered, urine-reeking eyesore, since $9 million in federal housing funds from the Houston Housing Finance Corporation was used to help secure the financing to turn the building into high-priced apartments -- with proceeds from a special taxing district being used to pay off the debt. One other small point: Rafael Acosta is a Metro board member who operates a small business, not a "bureaucrat."

It's Got a Ring ...
Why Cotswold indeed? After El Mercado del Sol, massaging Metro's megabucks, the willingness to chuck the Market Square Renewal and the transparencies regarding property tax funding for a new downtown playpen, these keepers of the public trust should have given a little more thought to naming this new promise.

Why not "Cuckold"?
Donn Searle
via Internet

Now Everybody Wants in on the Act
I've been developing a "happy hour" idea I had similar to the Cotswold water gardens. It involves the city deeding me control of 60 acres in the Galleria for my Hill Country wildflower gardens.

Would you be kind enough to provide me with the names and numbers of the city of Houston and Metro officials who can provide me with free consultants to get this presented to City Council? Thanks.

Ruben Rodriguez

Your NBA Champs: The Cotswold Rockets!
Let me first state that I am 100 percent in favor of the Cotswold project, from what I know about it. I own a home off of Washington Avenue and have no financial interest in this project. I only want desperately to be proud of the place where I live and work. This project would go a long way toward improving the city's image and sense of community. It does not bother me that some folks might profit financially from this project.

Bob Burtman's article mentions Cotswold's "considerable differences with Metro" and Cotswold's "antipathy toward buses [and] those who ride them." I don't see it. Metro trustee Rafael Acosta doesn't explain how 800,000 annual rider trips are going to be lost, or how service will be reduced on the 88 different Metro routes leading into downtown.

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