By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
Ah, well. I suppose IRS employees will just have to learn to live with the Catch-22. At the IRS, if you do your job, you're evil. If you don't, you're a lazy, no-good bureaucrat.
Name withheld by request
Resurrecting the Dead
I enjoyed your article about the privatization of welfare ["All in a Day's Work," by Brian Wallstin, April 2]. I'm an employee of TWC [Texas Workforce Commission] and a member of the Texas State Employees Union. It appears the state is resurrecting the dead. Almost 20 years ago, state workers and three nonprofit agencies were helping find work for welfare recipients. I saw a memo that said state employee placements cost half that of their nearest rival, VGS [Vocational Guidance Services], a very good agency. Urban League costs were about three times as much, and OIC [Occupational Industrial Conference], no longer in Houston, about four times.
Later, the state awarded the contract to a for-profit agency, Maximus. After making a big mess, they pulled out of Houston. It was given back to state employees, where it has remained till now.
I noticed Maximus is back doing the same thing in other parts of Texas. Our state leaders appear to think greed will solve all our social ills. Keep up the good work.
This letter is in response to the recent article titled "Poop Happens" [by Margaret Downing, April 16]. Complex manager Linda Harris was never told by an investigator from the Houston SPCA to "kill all the sparrows," and it is beyond belief that she would seek to tarnish the reputation of Houston's premiere animal-welfare organization by making such derogatory comments. Her attempt to deflect criticism and somehow place the blame on an organization dedicated to preventing suffering and exploitation of all animals is unconscionable.
The Houston SPCA, founded in 1924, provides the area's only 24-hour injured-animal rescue and cruelty-investigation program. This organization receives no funding from the government, United Way or national animal-protection groups. Every penny used to help Houston's animals in need comes from kind, caring individuals. Untrue statements like those attributed to Ms. Harris in the article directly affect our life-saving mission.
The Houston SPCA advised Ms. Harris to remove the nets. She was also told that she is responsible by law for providing food, water and shelter for any animals confined in the courtyards. The Houston SPCA asked a field investigator from Texas Parks and Wildlife to investigate the situation.
Thank you for letting us set the record straight!
Patricia E. Mercer
Executive Director, Houston SPCA
Birds? The people at Allen House should spend a week in my bedroom. If only it were a flock of birds! What we get is a flock of weed-blowers that crank up at exactly 8 a.m. every morning. I can see why birds might want to hang out together, but it beats the heck outta me how 20 weed-blowers can find enough to blow around for two full hours. (I did look out my window once, and saw three of the weed-blower operators playing the all-time favorite weed-blower game: "Let's move one tiny leaf 55 feet.") Rain or shine, these guys fly in on big diesel trucks and start their "songs" with great gusto. We can't hear birds sing because the weed-blowers scare them away. In fact, the sound of thousands of chirping birds after those guys leave is like a free pass out of jail.
Hey, I have a great idea. Come take our weed-blower dudes and have them come to the Allen House every morning at 8 a.m. In fact, I'm willing to bet they'd be glad to get there at 6 a.m. Have them crank up those little blowers and go at it. No more birds in the morning, trust me. No dead birds, no injured birds. No birds, period. You give us the fishing line to string up on the curb to keep away the weed-blowers.
Where Exactly Is the Poop?
Lord knows, my expectations of the Houston Press are more diminished than most. The time it took me to accumulate somewhere around 300 bylines in the ol' fish wrap gave me a lifetime dose of the harsh, hypocritical reality behind the Press's mask of smug, holier-than-thou self-righteousness. Recent "changes" at the Press did not offer much hope for improvement; I recall a time in the late '80s when my cause-of-the-moment came to the attention of the Houston Post, and I was left with a definite impression that Post managing editor Margaret Downing was deeply enamored of sensationalism and not at all concerned with accuracy or objectivity.
Even so, Ms. Downing's "Poop Happens" contained an error so glaring I cannot refrain from comment. When I read that Allen House is located in downtown Houston, my first thought was that this was an urban-affairs article written by someone incapable of finding the intersection of Westheimer and Montrose without a Key Map.
Resonating with Attitude
I was searching your web site for that marvelous piece that Patterson wrote a few weeks back about the big-game hunter ["The Dead Zoo," March 5]. I want to refer someone out-of-town to this web site to read it. It must be one of the classiest slams I have ever read! No one could ever pull a coherent quote from it to complain that Patterson was disapproving, but every sentence resonated with attitude. Beautiful prose.