Teed Off
In the "Golfin' Fools" article [by Bob Burtman, October 2] you say, "... of all the private operators running city courses, BSL is widely acknowledged to have done the best job."

I keep hearing this, but I don't understand it. We are not talking about putting a man on the moon. We are talking about fertilizing, watering, mowing and repairing and replacing equipment when needed -- and accepting the money which rolls in due to the immense popularity of golf and the limited number of close-in courses.

The problem with the Hermann Park Golf Course before BSL came along was that the city was sucking all the income into its general fund for other projects and not properly maintaining the course. Hermann improved under BSL, not because of any management genius on BSL's part, but because the city allowed money to be put back into the course (and at the same time, into BSL's coffers).

Imagine the scenario if, instead of giving the profits to BSL, the city had simply hired a good manager and a good greenskeeper at fixed salaries and put some of the revenue back into the course. The city would have received a lot more money from the course, golfers would probably be paying lower greens fees and the course would probably be in at least as good a condition as it is now.

You reported that weekend rates "will increase from $16.24 to $27.20, an almost 70 percent hike." Weekend greens fees are $15, meaning that the increase is over 80 percent. You also said that Friends of Hermann Park "envisions a higher-class course along the lines of Memorial."

Why? Because it will look prettier? Please ask Elyse Lanier and her cohorts when they last played the Hermann Park Golf Course. I play there three times a week (or more). I don't need a prettier golf course for 80-percent-higher fees.

Nelson Ford
via Internet, Houston

I love the Houston Press. Just for starters, The Insider column and the weekly investigative report are worth their weight in gold. But you are going to have to do something about your food write-ups. To call the food at the Golden Seafood House ordinary [Cafe, "A Fish Tale," by Paul Galvani, September 25] would require that the offerings at Long John Silver's be given three Michelin rosettes. The fried food's thick brown crust was indigestible, the vuelve a la vida was unmemorable and the so-called fried rice was unforgivable.

I'm sure the proprietors didn't seek Paul Galvani's encomiums and will continue serving their loyal Airline neighborhood crowd. Meanwhile, the Houston Press should be able to find more meritorious gustatory havens.

Sam Keeper
via Internet, Houston

Affirmative Reaction
Kudos to Brian Wallstin and the Press for your expose on Bob Lanier's affirmative action hypocrisy ["Voluntary ... Or Else," October 9]. I feel somewhat qualified to discuss Edward Blum's ballot initiative, having been responsible for the affirmative action program of a very large firm.

Regardless of the mayor's arrogant playing with its language, Mr. Blum's initiative will have zero effect on federal law, which still prohibits discrimination, which anyone in their right mind opposes. In addition to federal empowerment, the city has the enforcement power of 30-plus employees in its affirmative action department. Certainly they can make sure that the minority Anglo workforce at City Hall does not discriminate against the majority minorities. According to its budget of over $1.5 million, the affirmative action department plans to train 20,000 of the 23,000-plus city employees toward a discrimination-free environment in fiscal 1998.

But this initiative is not about city employees. It is about contract set-asides and political patronage. During an interview with executives of the city's affirmative action department in which I participated, they made it clear that a company rarely, if ever, received a city contract without a woman or minority subcontractor. A "voluntary" program? I think not. Incidentally, I challenge the mayor to furnish a list of the 400 noncomplying contractors whom he says got city business. His nose should be about two feet long by now.

But the affirmative action program is only part of the bigger political spoils problem at City Hall. City administrations come and go, but the same Anglo providers of "professional" services, which are not competitively bid, remain at the city trough and continue to be major campaign contributors and political players, along with the "voluntary" city contractors.

We should expect the affirmative action hypocrisy from Lanier. His professed concern for minorities and their inner city is belied by his building of the Grand Parkway, and ongoing investments in outer-limits properties which continue to attract Houstonians to move out of the city.

Bob Lemer

The Milby Tradition
I loved Michael Berryhill's article on Milby High School past and present ["Back to Milby," October 9]. One point which deserves emphasis is the real legacy of the administrators and teachers at Milby. It is true that Milby has produced its share of superstars -- a respected appellate judge (Bob Gammage), some honest, dedicated elected officials (state Senator Mario Gallegos and his mom, the HISD trustee) and an award-winning journalist (yep, Michael Berryhill), to name a few. It's also true that many of its graduates served their country honorably in every war from World War II to the Persian Gulf, and that many became doctors, lawyers and educators. I'm told that at least one redheaded Milby debater even made it to Harvard.

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