"Baby Doc" Beef
I am writing in reference to "Little Girl Lost?" [by Brian Wallstin, May 21]. While I applaud any and all efforts to air this child's plight and, overall, commend author Brian Wallstin's presentation of the story as being as neutral as possible, I do take issue. (You weren't really trying to stroke me out with the first two pages, were you Brian?)

My allegations against the Harris County District Attorney's office were anything but unspecified. See the enclosed photo, which contains a five-by-12-foot sign that reads "John 'Baby Doc' Holmes Jr. is stealing (the drug-seized) money, American Bank, Special Account No. 11300347 0045314." Other signs in front of the Family Law Center were just as specific regarding Harris County District Attorney personnel.

Brittany's case is a perfect example of the imperfections in our DA's office, primarily selective prosecution. Why do some people receive immunity or special plea bargains from John Holmes & Co., while others are hounded at every turn?

Ms. Phrogge Simons

Dads Don't Rate
"Little Girl Lost?" reveals the following about the current state of "Anti-Family Law."

While a mother can opt out of motherhood via adoption or abortion, a father is obligated for 18 years of child support even in the event of birth-control fraud, and must pay for the paternity test. A father who asserts any paternity rights will spend multiples of the mother's legal fees (in this case, $100,000), and will subject himself to charges of abuse.

Mothers and their supporters can violate court orders with impunity. Fathers will be jailed for similar behavior.

The media will characterize any effort by a father to assert rights to his children as either negative (abusive, selfish) or neutral (they are both at fault, neither is thinking of the child's best interests).

The current system is so overwhelmingly biased against father custody, it is no wonder that fathers resort to desperate measures. Only when fathers have a reasonable chance for custody will mothers have any incentive to act in the best interest of the children. Perhaps we need affirmative action programs for fathers.

K. Flanagan
via Internet

Parting Safari Shots
I have been trying to reach Randall Patterson for several days via phone; he must be busy on an article. A recent short article in the Houston Safari Club publication The Hunters Horn made me want to thank him for his "The Dead Zoo" article in the Houston Press [March 5].

Randall, we have had so many good experiences because of your article that I felt compelled to let you know. At one point, a friend brought us 26 copies of the Press and requested that a number of them be autographed for various people. For the most part, all feedback to us has been on the positive side.

At this point, Cecil [Hopper] has autographed many copies of the issue with his story, and he had the chance to talk to many, many people who were impressed with it. I must admit that when I read the "Return Fire" letter in the Press on March 19, I was upset. But Cecil seemed to take this person's remarks in stride, with his usual good nature.

I still feel that the really small person is the one who wants to hide his identity and call another person a "jerk" and a "small person" to the rest of the community. Name-calling is pretty childish and small, especially when you aren't man enough to face up to doing it!

The article in The Hunters Horn put it very nicely, stating that this Houston Press article was more about Cecil the man, "joyful, straightforward and completely absorbed in the delights of hunting and of life." It also made the comment, "It is not at all surprising to find that even there [Houston Press], Cecil's warmth and joie de vivre can prevail."

Randall, again, let me say that it was a job well done.
Anne Wythe
via Internet

Damn, We're Good...
The National Association of Black Journalists recently awarded two of its annual prizes to Houston Press staff writers.

Shaila Dewan's "The Art of Darkness" [June 12, 1997] won first place in the Features category for publications with circulation of 150,000 or less. In that story, Dewan profiled Michael Ray Charles, an African-American painter who explores issues of race via the loaded images of pickaninnies and Little Black Sambos. Dewan asked, is Charles the "racial healer" he's been proclaimed? Or is he falling prey himself to the negative power of the images?

Bob Burtman's "Shadow Over Texas City" [May 29, 1997] won first place in the Enterprise category. Burtman examined how the region's petrochemical plants and refineries took advantage of nearby residents -- mostly poor minorities who, unable to sell their houses, couldn't escape the dangers the plants pose.

But Not Perfect
Correction: All Aerial Theater listings in the Houston Press Summer Guide [May 21] carried the wrong address and box-office telephone number. The Aerial Theater is located at 520 Texas Avenue; its phone number is 230-1600.

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