Geez, Andy, your comments are so concise (no editors at HP?), analytical and measured. Next time, why not try, "This movie moves at a slower pace than I enjoy..."? Andy, you need to see Mars Attacks. It might be fast enough to keep you alert; it's available at Blockbuster!

On a wider plane: The "expose" articles that I've always enjoyed and learned from seem to be getting thinner and more verbose. What about a synopsis at the beginning of each article? "Caution: Consultants Ahead" [by Bob Burtman, November 13] for example: "This article examines how inadequate supervision of consultants by the public works department has resulted in wasted funds. It seems that spending available funds has a higher priority than spending funds wisely. Substandard completions have been accepted and paid for. The article names specific names and projects. Another issue examined is reduced morale in public works."

That would have set the tone for Burtman's 104-column-inch (!) opus. Obviously, I'm still reading you all, so there's still hope.

Tom Brucia
via Internet

Who, Us? Insiders?
News articles in your publication ["Home Cooking," The Insider, by Tim Fleck, October 16, and "Undiscovered Country," by Jim Simmon, October 23] suggest that my law partner Peggy Foreman and I are wealthy political insiders and are not appropriate participants in the city of Houston's affirmative action program. I respectfully suggest that a review of the truthful facts demonstrates that those assumptions are clearly wrong.

I was born to parents who had no more than third-grade educations, yet they worked hard, as a maid and a chauffeur, to make sure that their children stayed in school and got good educations. Of their four children, all attended college, and three earned college degrees.

In 1957, at the age of 16, I dropped out of school prior to entering my senior year in high school. I was a teenage mother and a single parent who went back to school in my early twenties to obtain my Graduate Equivalency Diploma. After getting my GED, I went to undergraduate school and law school under extremely challenging circumstances. While in school, I had no choice but to work full-time at night to provide for my daughter and myself -- without public assistance of any kind. I was licensed by the State Bar of Texas in 1974, at a time when there were few women lawyers and even fewer African-American lawyers.

Peggy Foreman comes from a similar background. She is the youngest of 12 children born to parents with little formal education, who worked as janitors in the North Forest Independent School District, where she attended school. Of the 12, four went to college, and Peggy was the only one to get a professional degree. Peggy worked her way through undergraduate and graduate school holding two jobs, one as a food-service manager and the other as a resident counselor for migrant farm workers.

We have also been afforded the opportunity to perform legal services for the city of Houston in the area of public-finance law. This is a highly specialized area for both minority- and non-minority-owned law firms. Through hard work and a commitment to excellence, we gained expertise and experience in public-finance law and met the qualifications and requirements to be listed in the Bond Buyer's Municipal Marketplace -- at the time, the only law firm owned by African-American women that had earned this distinction. Since we have experience in these nontraditional areas of practice, it is not unusual that we would be considered for hire by the city of Houston.

The accomplishments of Burney & Foreman, collectively, and of Peggy Foreman and Zinetta A. Burney, individually, did not come about because of political patronage or insider politics. Rather, we were given an opportunity through the city's affirmative action program to engage in nontraditional areas of legal practice and, through hard work and determination, we performed our jobs well.

Zinetta A. Burney

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