Positive About Negatives
I firmly believe that the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority is one of the largest rip-offs this city has seen in some time. ["Passing the Bucks," by Margaret Downing, May 28]. They kiss each other's ass while spending the taxpayers' money on something this city does not need. And this guy [Jimmie] Schindewolf is going to be a frontman for errors on this ballpark, which will have cost over-runs. What I would like to know is how Jack Rains and Billy Burge got on that committee. They must have the negatives on someone. On Brown & Root doing the job ... look at the South Texas Nuclear Project. I think the lawsuits are still going on....

L. Watkins
via Internet

First-Degree Disgust
What else is to be expected of HISD except the top brass plundering the system? ["(Pay)checks and (Im)balances," by Shaila Dewan, May 21]. The rot starts at the top. Petruzielo was a showboat with a phony, mail-order Ph.D., Raymond was an egomaniacal spendthrift with her own credential problems and Paige was dean of the College of Education at TSU, the academic slum of, arguably, Texas's worst college. Add to that the fact that several years ago, investigative reporters discovered that most of the Taj Mahal's administrators have phony, mail-order master's degrees, which are job requirements.

What was the result of the Houston Press revelation? Teachers' and administrators' academic credentials were made secret. We are not talking about academic records, classes and grades. A teacher's or administrator's academic degrees that are required for public-sector jobs and the granting institutions are secret.

As a group, the HISD administrators are the only people I know of who are embarrassed to tell you what college they got their master's or Ph.D. degrees from.

J. Bute
via Internet

Hit List for HISD
Thanks for spreading the news about administrative salaries. Principals probably receive "rewards" for improvement in TAAS scores. Teachers receive an evaluation that uses TAAS as part of the score. No money, though. I pay my HISD school taxes with an increasing resentment, based on deplorable schools, crowded classes and a plunge in the quality of education. Now, I can add salaries to the top of the list.

Judith Hathaway
via Internet

Sheila Says It Isn't So
I am disappointed that with the closing of the Houston Post, formerly the other daily newspaper in Houston, another newspaper that fairly reported real news stories did not develop. I thought the Houston Press could do that, but sadly, that is not the case. ["Flying Miss Sheila," The Insider, May 14].

Elected officials, by the very nature of our positions, expect to be taken to task for anything we do, no matter whether some view it as good or bad. So be it: That is the American way.

In the instance of the Houston Press, I have seen no reason in the past to respond to the paper's continued trivialization of myself and other elected officials. However, out of a deep respect for my constituents, I must respond to the latest trivialization. I believe people are fair. In fact, Houstonians are very fair.

It is important for me to absolutely and clearly deny the quotations attributed to me in that story. The story was, of course, centered around an employee who is no longer employed in the office. It is also vital to assert that at no time did any Houston Press reporters seek to verify the veracity of the story from myself or anyone else in my office.

I am grateful for the staff in my office that works every day to service our constituents. Their daily successes tell the real story; the Houston Press does not!

Sheila Jackson Lee
Member of Congress

Ex-Staffer Seconds Sheila
I worked for over two years for Congresswoman Jackson Lee, who is an energetic member of Congress who sits on the House Science committee and the Judiciary Committee.

She works very hard for the residents of the 18th Congressional District and demands a great deal from her staff.

Working in this office has been an enriching experience that few on or off the Hill can match. It pays off every time I can say to someone that I know how to do a particular task or that I have done that type of project before.

As a former member of her staff who is leaving to go to graduate school, and for no other reason, I would ask that you do a story on her accomplishments and not focus on the negative comments of former staff.

Lillie Coney
Former systems manager/
Senior legislative assistant

Thy Rod and Thy Staff
Why is Tim Fleck obsessed with Congress member Sheila Jackson Lee and what goes on between her and her staff? Why don't we talk about and spend newspaper print on something that's really important -- like the Republican assault on Social Security, gun control, the environment, public schools, a woman's right to choose and just about every other progressive and enlightened initiative taken in the last six years?

Sheila Jackson Lee votes in the public interest on every one of these issues. She is there on the line. How about concentrating on substantive issues instead of gossip?

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