By Sean Pendergast
By Sean Pendergast
By Jeff Balke
By Richard Connelly
By Jeff Balke
By Casey Michel
By Craig Hlavaty
By Jeff Balke
From McVicker, That Was a Compliment
Steve McVicker's report ["Death of an Informant," July 24] was okay, but it was too long. His referring to a certain bar as a "dimly lit dive" is a sorry bit. I am a customer of that bar and that was an insult to the owner and to the other customers who go there. Mr. McVicker needs to get a life.
Come Back, Paul
Please thank Paul Galvani for "Grade A" [Cafe, August 7]. What wonderful, and well-deserved, publicity for the Conrad N. Hilton College and UH. I have been an avid reader of the Houston Press for several years now and hope that Paul will continue to come back to Barron's to dine as often as I read the Press (once a week -- every Thursday). Send other employees of the Press, too!
I read with interest Tim Fleck's obituary for a bunch of trees [The Insider, "Woodman, Whack That Tree!", July 31]. The grief expressed by the environmental terrorist group Parks People was sickening. This extremist group has done more to contribute to air pollution in Houston than my old Dodge truck. Don't these wackos know that trees are the second leading cause of air pollution in Houston, according to the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission?
The picture of those felled trees was warming to the cockles of my heart, for it means cleaner air in Houston.
Man Seeking Gypsy
Regarding Jonathan Bernstein's umbrage at your use of the word "gypped" [Letters, "But Would It Be Okay If We Referred to Something as 'Jerry-Rigged'?", August 7]: Please, Jonathan, get a real job, get a real life, read Jonathan Livingston Seagull, contemplate the state of the universe and strive for a productive use of your time. Personally I've had it way up to here with PC sensibilities taking offense to every innocuous utterance that has some obscure reference to someone who's been abused and oppressed at some time in our sordid history.
America is such a difficult place to exist for the verbally oppressed these days. How can said Gypsies overcome such cruel and inhumane references to their noble and inspiring contributions to the advancement of the human spirit? But what do I know, I've never met one in my 48 years of existence.
Felix the Innocent
I write to comment on a sentence in Tim Fleck's The Insider column concerning Felix Fraga. Midway through an otherwise informed column ["Welcome to Hotel Six," August 7], Mr. Fleck wrote that Felix took "illegal" campaign contributions and "escaped" indictment, perhaps, Mr. Fleck implies, by "cooperating with the feds."
I represent Felix. My mission as Felix's lawyer was to show the prosecutor that Felix has a splendid and well-deserved reputation in the religious, business and charitable/social services community of Houston. Further, my mission was to show that Felix never intended to, and did not, violate any criminal law. I succeeded, and Felix properly was not charged.
The evidence of the prosecution clearly showed that the object of the sting -- to determine if local officials would take money for political acts -- failed miserably as to Felix. The evidence showed clearly that Felix did not and would not accept money offered for a political act. When the federal undercover operatives offered money on video and asked Felix to help the Cayman Group compel Wayne Duddlesten to provide them equity in the hotel project, Felix rejected it.
Keep in mind that Felix is the only member of the Council during the sting who was running for federal office and whose conduct was judged under the federal election law, in addition to the bribery law. Concerning the federal election law issue, the evidence showed that Felix's conduct with respect to the government's contribution to Felix's congressional campaign was not "criminal." First, Felix intended to do nothing wrong. Second, his acceptance of a cash campaign contribution from the federal operatives was an administrative, not "criminal," mistake. The federal election laws only criminalize (at the misdemeanor level) intentional conduct with respect to contributions in excess of the amount allowed by the federal election laws. This amount was not exceeded and wrongful intent did not exist.
After over a year of innuendo in the local press, the prosecutor told Felix he was only a "witness." He was subpoenaed before the federal grand jury to testify about his conduct and his alone. He appeared before the grand jury under subpoena without immunity. He testified not "against" anyone, but only to confirm what he stands for -- that public servants should not, cannot and may not accept contributions in return for political acts. I hope the media is now willing to publicize Felix as an example of an honest public servant who passed the acid test of a federal sting operation. As for those who have been indicted, Felix hopes that public judgment will presume them innocent while they await trial.
...But Just Call Him for supper, Right?
I am proud to say that I've known Judge David West since high school days. If by referring to his new practice as "the Law Offices of Judge David West" he is violating a canon of the state code of judicial conduct [The Insider, "My First Name Is Judge," July 31], then perhaps it needs to be rewritten.
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