I read with some bemusement your recent article on the difficulties encountered by Pasadena police when trying to get trucking companies to obey the law ["Semi Safe," by Bob Burtman, December 3]. A couple of years ago, the Internal Revenue Service tried to reach out to the local intermodal trucking industry. There were no audits and no enforcement actions.

The only thing the IRS did was compile a list of local trucking companies and begin inviting them to a series of informal public get-togethers, complete with coffee and cake. Educational materials were made available to them concerning their tax-related responsibilities, specifically concerning the treatment of drivers as employees versus calling them independent contractors. No names where taken, and nothing was on the record.

The reaction of the trucking companies to this kinder, gentler approach was extreme. They howled to every elected idiot they could pin down and got heard all the way up to the Cabinet level. Despite the fact that these educational efforts had dramatically increased compliance in the market sector, bringing in over $100 million above baseline in three years without a single audit, the program was ordered shut down.

The involved personnel were not only reassigned, they were dispersed to separate buildings so as to make comparing notes more difficult. And the information they gathered was ultimately destroyed without further review. All this happened as a result of the collective tantrum thrown by the trucking companies as they rebelled against the notion they should sacrifice even a penny in profits by being required to obey the law.

The motto of the story? Don't piss off the trucking companies; they've got a helluva lobby. After all, if they have the political muscle to shut down the IRS, what chance did the Pasadena Police Department have?

Name withheld by request
via Internet

Give Us a Brake
Now for a lie!
To quote from the article: Pasadena DOT officers understand all this and cut the drivers more than a few breaks on violations, but that's not good enough for some operators -- especially those whose trucks are in disrepair and have received numerous citations. "How can you keep your brakes adjusted all the time?" says trucking company owner and repeat offender Luis Hernandez. "You've got to be under the truck every day."

John Crawford
via Internet

Location, Location ...
Representative Talton, the Bob Burtman article does not do you proud. You rationalized your stated opposition to the weigh station as being in your district. The Houston Press says that it is not! I believe the Press. If its selected location is not the best choice, pick a better location. The lives of human beings are at stake in Pasadena!

May I suggest that you and Bob Todd would make a good comic team.
A.J. da Silva
via Internet

Past Due on Pollution
What a fantastic story! Thank you for your research and for taking the time and interest to write a story that tells the truth.

Your article really comprehensively covered the issue. What I love about the Press is that you reach people all over Harris County, and they are going to start connecting what is going on here in East Houston with the chemical plants, etc.

The flip way we deal with chemicals here in Texas, in their manufacture and transportation, is going to come back and haunt us some day.

You might be interested in how chemical plants downplay their "accidents." We have had three incidents near El Jardin in the past six months, and we have some good, detailed facts about how the Chronicle downplayed them and how the chemical plant didn't report the incidents when they should have; I believe about 60 people went to the hospital. The news channels didn't even give the story the time of day.

Bill Dawson and Jim Morris with the Chronicle have run some articles regarding "toxic secrecy" and air quality, but the Chronicle keeps them on a leash. For example, Bill can write from dawn to dark regarding how dirty the chemical plants are in Louisiana, but I wonder if the Chronicle would let him tell the truth about Houston chemical plants.

Charlotte Cherry
via Internet

Shame on Helen
I am perturbed about Councilman Bruce Tatro being considered "vulnerable" [Insider, by Tim Fleck, December 3]. I have lived in the Spring Branch area of District A for more than 20 years and have been very active in both the civic and political arenas.

Bruce Tatro succeeded Helen Huey and, in his first year, has demonstrated the ability to very ably follow in her footsteps by continuing to liaise with the businesses and his constituency, and by pursuing and finishing many infrastructure improvements. Bruce has been instrumental in keeping Spring Branch -- and to the best of my knowledge, the rest of District A -- moving forward at the same pace as his predecessor, namely Helen Huey. Therefore, it is absolutely incredible and ridiculous that she is trying to recruit someone to run against him, and I for one am appalled at her for doing so.

Maureen Mulrooney

No TSU Student
For you to get your facts wrong by assuming African-American District F Council candidate Dionne Roberts is a Texas Southern University student [Insider, December 3] is as wrong as if you were to assume she was liberal; against individual responsibility, protecting families and property rights; or promoting home and business ownership simply because she is African-American.

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