Letters

Sense of Balance
Maybe I don't read enough print journalism, or maybe I just read the bad stuff. Regardless, I found Brad Tyer's piece on Parr's cats ["Biggest Game in Town," February 11] to be what every piece of journalism is supposed to be: objective and honest. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised.

Too many times, it seems the media takes its cues from Hollywood, trying too hard to oversimplify the message and find a "bad guy" on which to pin the blame. What struck me most about Tyer's story was that, even before he spelled it out for us at the end, I couldn't really tell whose whose side he was on.

Journalists are humans and are allowed to have opinions, but their work requires them to present the facts and let the readers draw their own conclusions. What I came away with was a complete picture of why things happened, and not with a bad taste in my mouth about Montgomery County "rednecks" or "evil" parole officers.

Just wanted to say thanks; I really appreciate it.
Matthew Scott
via Internet

Mopping Up
Jennifer Mathieu's article ["Fecal Distraction," February 11] about the accidental dumping of remnants of the wastewater treatment process into the street and the ensuing car accidents gives new meaning to the phrase "hazardous waste dump."

Carol Martin
via Internet

Health Hazards
On behalf of myself and my community I would like to applaud Mr. Bob Burtman for his well-written, truthful article, "Blowing Smoke" [February 18]. I would also like to thank the Houston Press for the courage it took to print this article.

It is interesting that opposing further air pollution of an already overpolluted area should be construed as a radical opinion. My neighbors and I oppose any further expansion at or near Bayport. We are not anti-industry, we are pro-breathing.

Although my home was built recently, the surrounding communities were in existence long before any chemical plants were built. In fact, part of my community was "appropriated" for the Bayport channel with the verbal guarantee that no further expansion would ever take place. Industrial development of this area is supposedly inevitable, but the city of Pasadena is still issuing residential building permits to unsuspecting home buyers and still collecting on taxes on these homes. I know, it happened to me.

Perhaps the city of Pasadena should acknowledge the potential hazards of living in a toxic environment and post health warnings, such as those required on cigarette packages, at the entrances to those communities. Smoking is probably less of a risk to health than breathing air tainted with toxics. I guess the public-service announcements regarding inhalant abuse do not include forced inhalants. I would like to just say no!

Frank Bettencourt
El Jardin

Clean the Air
Bob Burtman's timely and pertinent article in the Houston Press challenges the monstrous expansion of the Bayport channel with petrochemical/port expansion for the megacontainers and cruise-ship wharves. They would effectively rob the people of Seabrook, La Porte and Shoreacres of what little environmental recreation and bayside beauty exist in this area.

Typical of past Houston city thinking, an industrial proposal which could bring more pollution, traffic and other worrisome health problems is ignored to favor the development-oriented council and government entities.

Getting the word out has been met with a general shrug: "you can't defeat big business, big government or big port authorities." But the activists, assisted by Jim Blackburn, are continuing to hold meetings and spread the word. It will take a super effort, but these people firmly believe they can win. Even good old Houston, Pasadena, Deer Park and other affected cities will eventually be forced to join the environmentally progressive. That is because their top priority should be our quality of life and right to breathe fresh, clean air and to enjoy boating and our coastline.

Bob Burtman is indeed on the right track. Articles like his, if read widely enough, can reach the apathetic and the elected officials who should not forget "the times, they are a-changing." Thank you, Houston Press.

Maureen Goddard
Houston

Taking Issue
A statement in the article by Bob Burtman appears to be false and damaging. He makes the assertion, "Though the incidence of respiratory disease, cancer and other maladies appears to be elevated all along the Gulf Coast...."

A statement such as that is contemptible if not true. I have heard that for years, and it appears to be nothing more than an "urban myth." I am certain that it is not the editorial policy of the Houston Press to create groundless health concerns among our neighbors.

The data that I have been able to find not only do not corroborate such a "fact," they show quite the opposite. According to the statistics from the sources cited in the attached material [Texas Vital Statistics; Texas Department of Health; United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census], Harris County has death rates from cancer and pulmonary disease that are 30 percent to 50 percent lower than the nation and lower than the state of Texas and other major metro areas in our state. Even if you adjust for Houston's lower overall death rate (likely due to a younger population), the rates are not above those for the United States, Texas or the other metro areas.

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